What Went Down At: University Women's Indoor Nationals 2017/18

Chair: AnnieB (tSG Head of UMWIN Coverage)
Editor: hazard (tSG Uni Editor)
Contributors: gyanhan (Oxford), Amanda Chan (Edinburgh)
Additional Contributions: Becky Greenwood (Loughborough), Alice Hanton (Leeds), Hayley Dalmon (Strathclyde Captain), Kathleen Beekman/Kate Stafford (Edinburgh Co-Captains)

the ShowGame preview 


1    [W] Edinburgh 1 (Sc1)
2    [W] Strathclyde 1 (Sc2)
3    [W] Bath 1 (W1)
4    [W] Huddersfield 1 (N1)
5    [W] Aberdeen 1 (Sc3)
6    [W] Newcastle 1 (N5)
7    [W] UCL 1 (E5)
8    [W] Hertfordshire 1 (E1)
9    [W] Glasgow 1 (Sc4)
10    [W] Imperial 1 (E2)
11    [W] Birmingham 1 (W2)
12    [W] Loughborough 1 (N2)
13    [W] Sheffield 1 (N6)
14    [W] Oxford 1 (E4)
15    [W] Manchester 1 (N4)
16    [W] KCL 1 (E3)
17    [W] St Andrews 1 (Sc5)
18    [W] Bangor 1 (W3)
19    [W] Warwick 1 (W4)
20    [W] Leeds 1 (N3)


AnnieB
Hi everyone! First of all, huge congrats to the winning teams, and well done to everyone that played this weekend! Let’s get started.

Give us a quick rundown of how the teams from your region did- were there any big surprises?


Amanda Chan
As Scottish players, we always believe in our region and think we can do well in Nationals but it is not always the case, especially in the Women's division. Scottish Women's team haven't come top 3 in a while so it's nice to see a change. Less of a surprise to be honest, more happy for the results. Not just Edinburgh and Strathclyde, but Aberdeen and Glasgow as well, who came top of their bracket (5th and 9th). As for surprises in other region, I might be wrong and old and haven't follow uni ultimate so closely in a while, I am surprised how well Newcastle and UCL played. They were both 5th in the region but came top 8 in Nationals.


AnnieB
From the reactions of the Scottish captains, I'd say they feel the same way about this result!


gyanhan
I’m surprised Hertfordshire finished at the bottom of the top 8 bracket, losing to UCL in their 7-8 final, as I had pipped them to be a challenger to the top 3. I’m not surprised UCL did so well though I hadn’t expected them to climb thaaat much. They qualified 5th at Regionals because of an unlucky 2v7 cross with Oxford that left them having to qualify through the back door, and hence hadn’t actually played the other regional qualifiers such as Herts/Imperial/KCL. Maybe Herts should be thankful Oxford beat UCL at Regionals so they could get that regional trophy.
Hertfordshire rose from not qualifying last year, to a top-8 finish and Regional trophy this year.
Photo by Sam Mouat for the ShowGame
hazard
Since Newcastle came 4th at UWIN last year, and UCL won UWON outright last year, I’m not too surprised. Particularly since SYC player/GB U24 Alicia Tan is still at UCL (and, as Reddit pointed out, American Ruth Kilsby).


gyanhan
UCL did have a fantastic game to beat Glasgow, their zone was so effective.


Amanda Chan
UCL's breaks were also unstoppable, obviously from Alicia Tan but also from most of their other players.


gyanhan
Imperial did as about I expected, while Oxford had two very close games with sudden death losses to Glasgow and Manchester that left us at the bottom of the pool while winning those two could have led to us being 2nd in the pool. That meant we were stuck in the 13-20 bracket. KCL didn’t have Lauren Bryant around, so again, not surprised with where they finished.  


hazard
Well, teams do rise and fall. But I definitely wouldn’t put Newcastle/UCL at the level of, say, Chichester winning last year (which only a *lot* of inside knowledge meant we could even half-predict).


AnnieB
On that note from hazard- since last year, there’s been some big changes. The top 3 from last year- Chichester, KCL and Birmingham. Chichester didn’t qualify, and KCL and Birmingham didn’t break into the top 10.  Any thoughts on this?


hazard
Chichester had a power year. We’ve been seeing them build up for a while. Now, Amy Watson has left for Southampton, and Beth Hutchinson/Klaudia “Polish” Piwowar/Amber Cottrell have left the uni scene altogether. They were a tall team that could use hammer breaks well. Sofia Hill was the only one I recognised on the team this year from that squad last year. Really impressive what they managed, and Chichester are left stronger for their having been there. They won't be Nationals level again for a little bit though.  The fact that both Chichester and KCL didn’t enter Outdoor Nationals last year may have been an indication their strength was in a few key players though, rather than a broad squad.


gyanhan
KCL are definitely missing their 2 iceni players, while Birmingham despite retaining Grace Owen and Ophelia Byrne, just didn’t have as much depth as they had last year.


AnnieB
Interesting theme coming up here- the presence of club players making so much difference to the Uni results.


Amanda Chan
The presence of club and u24 players definitely make massive differences to uni results. On the contrary, positive side, the top 4 teams all have players from u24/23 and high level club teams.


AnnieB
Broad squad- what does that mean for an indoor team? It leads into my next question- why did the Scottish teams dominate this weekend? If you were there, or watched any of the streams, what do you think gave them the edge?


hazard
I think I could actually argue exceptions to that rule on only two teams in the top 10, from Amanda’s point. Both would be in the north though, and I think more an indication of a lack of clubs around to sweep up the talented players that exist, rather than arguing in any way that aren’t of club-level quality. Isabella Barber-Lowell and Tanya Fozzard made up a strong set of three (with Elly While) for Huddersfield, but none of them played club Outdoor Nationals, and I don’t believe the first two ever played high-level Tour, despite their dominance this weekend.
It was hard to stop Huddersfield's top players this weekend.
Photo by Sam Mouat for the ShowGame
gyanhan
The Scottish teams have some sick overheads, while other teams also use them, I think the Scottish players utilised them the most accurately and effectively. Also shoutout to Katie Flight’s insane scoobers, I think she gained a horde of fanboys over the weekend. Bath snuck into the top 3 despite not using much overheads, they play through the speed and athleticism of every single player on the team


Amanda Chan
Broad squad definitely helped. Huddersfield essentially only played through five players, even though they were amazing players and it took them to top 4, but not having the depth might have cost them the 3 vs 4 game. Having a home advantage also helped Scotland. Most Scottish indoor tournaments are held on astro while half/most of the English ones are still on hardcourt, so Scottish team knows how to use the space, both horizontal and vertical better  


AnnieB
I was so impressed at Bath's play- I think last year I got distracted by Chichester and didn't register Bath's strength, but I really loved watching their games!


hazard
I would love to see how Edinburgh got the better of Bath in the semis. Or how Loughborough got the upset win in pool stages come to that…


Becky Greenwood
Throughout the whole season in the lead up to both Regionals and Nationals the Loughborough women have been doing weekly fitness sessions at 7am, so it’s safe to say they were some of the fittest players there.


gyanhan
There was an injury to Georgia Murphy during the Bath vs Loughborough game. Could that have impacted Bath’s morale?


AnnieB
Also, I do think thats why Edinburgh came out on top. The depth and experience of that squad is insane.  That Edinburgh vs Bath game was one of the best I watched all weekend, and it was filmed, so hopefully you will get a chance to do just that!  


gyanhan
Space-wise I don’t think there was much difference, the astro pitches at Ravenscraig weren’t as large as the ones at Alan Higgs for UXIN, but in terms of terrain, that might affect explosiveness/agility on cuts.


AnnieB
So I have quotes from both the Strathclyde and the Edinburgh captains. I'll post these here for people to respond to, and then we'll move on!

“Just that i want to say how proud I am of my team. From watching the final back, I am super proud of the defence especially from the horses. I think that our use of poaching really slowed down the edinburgh girls in and around the end zone. Also a huge thank you to Ro Sham for such an intense final and massive congratulations on the win! They truly deserve the trophy “ Hayley Dalmon, Strathclyde

“ I think overall I was very impressed with the level of play at the tournament. All of our games on day 2 were hard fought. It was a really good showing for Women's ultimate. The final was a great game, intense with high level of play and both sides making great plays. The final being a repeat of the final at Regionals did not totally surprise me. Strathclyde was very strong at Regionals and I think both teams brought another level to this final.”
“And piggybacking on what Kathleen said, I think what really made the difference for us in the tournament, and in the final, was the depth of our team and the determination to keep grinding!”
Kathleen Beekman, Kate Stafford. Edinburgh, Co-Captains.

So, I straight up stole this question from Hazard from the Regionals preview, but I think it should be asked again after this Nationals: Do we think Women’s is ready for two sixteen-team Indoor National divisions?

I'd love there to be another division. As anyone that knows me as a writer and player, I am a huge supporter of the less experienced players being able to compete as much as possible. But I do recognise it puts so much pressure on clubs and for some just isn't feasible right now.


hazard
My vote would be yes, but it does mean we’d have to give up the romantic notion of having everything at one venue. It’s an issue we’re dealing with at club-level for tour too, but I honestly think there’s enough strength in Women’s Uni Ultimate (and enough virtue in giving more teams competitive games) that we’re at that point.


gyanhan
I think the experience would be great for teams qualifying for Div. 2. Though some regions may be quite weak, for eg. two teams from the west finished in the bottom 4 of Div. 1. Just to play devil's advocate abit, would it be worth the organisation, transport, logistics involved?


Amanda Chan
Before going and actually following all of uni nats this year I would say no, but after seeing the strength, I'd say yes. I think Harry basically sums up what I wanted to say.


gyanhan
I would like to see a Div. 2 though :)


AnnieB
If it's worth it for the Men’s teams it's worth it for the Women’s!


Amanda Chan
With Women's being BUCS now, hopefully the uni will give more support and makes organisation, transport and logistics easier.


Amanda Chan
I think uni Women's is ready to have two divisions in indoors, but not yet outdoors.


hazard
Assigning across the regions, we would see:
Scotland - Heriot-Watt, Stirling, St. Andrew’s 2
North - Sheffield, Durham, Newcastle 2
West - Plymouth, Swansea, Exeter
East - St Marys, Cambridge*
*The East schedule is offline, so we can't check the final team


Given Newcastle 1st's excellent placement on field, could their second team also have put on a good show?
Photo by Ed Hanton for the ShowGame
hazard
I definitely think the top 1/2 in each region could give a good game. We may end up with some development teams at the bottom. But Men’s Div. 2 has also been like that for a while, in my opinion. It’s also less risky than a lot of moves (new regions, taking away amalgamation teams, BUCS Women’s outdoors) that I feel UKU has tried or is looking to try for helping develop Women’s Ultimate.  


AnnieB
I would be so keen on this option. Alrighty, just to wrap things up. Outdoors is coming up. Do you think the teams in your region will be placed similarly? Who do you think will be the big contenders compared to indoors?


gyanhan
I think UCL will still be aiming for gold this year, they didn't graduate many players from last year's squad and with an extra year playing together they can be even tougher this year. Not to mention they had two teams at Regionals which suggests depth + they had a squad of 12 at UWIN, so their outdoor team should be formidable. I expect Herts, Imperial and Oxford to qualify as well for UWON


hazard
From the west, I expect Bath to do very well. Not just from their finishing position, but because they looked to be strong across the board. Their second team did fairly well at Regionals, and they don’t just have to rely on one star player. Birmingham will qualify and do decently. The final couple spots are more up for grabs.


Amanda Chan
I am not worried about Edinburgh, but it will be interesting to see how the rest of the region plays out. I would love for them to prove me wrong but I think Strathclyde is more of an indoors team than outdoor. I think they'll still do well but top 4 at Nationals will be hard to top. Even though Aberdeen have the types of outdoor players, they don't have the depth and often had to iron women, that could affect how they do. I think Glasgow will do better outdoor compared to indoors, a lot of their girls are playing/ training with GUX. So it will be interesting to see how the 2nd-4th ranking will form among them. For the remaining two spots, I think St Andrews will qualify. But the fight for the last spot among Heriot-Watt, Dundee, Stirling and Edinburgh 2 will be interesting.  


hazard
From the North - I know Durham are planning to enter two teams, which usually means there’s a fair bit of depth across a club, so they’re my tip to qualify where the couldn’t indoors. Newcastle also have a lot of depth, I would be very surprised if they didn’t end up with a place. Huddersfield I’m less sure about. I actually think they’ll do better in mixed - particularly if they can teach their guys not to clog space to allow their strong female players to dominate.  Loughborough will get through if Rupal Ghelani is available - their whole squad is strong, but she was always the one they looked to for the bailout option, and if she gets injured it would be difficult to adapt. Sheffield are similar with Zarah Dixon - although her height won't quite be as dominant in wind (though she'll still be a tough player to stop). As for Leeds, who knows what happened to them this weekend. It depends on which Leeds team we see for whether they qualify. I think for Leeds, not having Rachel Naden was the kicker. Not just for her ability, but also for the mental strength she gave them too.


Alice Hanton
I'm not entirely sure what happened to us (Leeds) either to be honest. It's crossed my mind that the different surface/pitch size may have thrown us off initially. After coming third at regionals I expected to finish middle of the table, but we just didn't play anything like what we are capable of- so many mistakes and we weren't gelling like other teams were. After being trounced several times we quickly lost confidence in ourselves meaning we just couldn't get it together. For me, the only game where we can be happy with how we played was against Sheffield where we looked like a different team (we lost on universe and I believe we could have won if Zarah Dixon was 2 inches shorter!) I'm sure having Nads would have helped as you say hazard- at outdoor nats last year she came on mid-game despite being injured and turned games around. But even without her we should be doing better than this. We should qualify for outdoors if we play properly- it's been a wakeup call for the team that we need to train hard.


hazard
Ok, to finish off. What would your all-star teams be from this weekend? Anyone else is welcome to join in too.  


gyanhan
Katie Flight, Hayley Dalmon (Strathclyde) - they are an incredible duo with so much chemistry so I had to put both in, Kate Gibson (Newcastle), Rupal Ghelani (Loughborough), Charlie Ellis (Hertfordshire),


Amanda Chan
Kate Stafford, Lulu Boyd, Helena Slater (Edinburgh), Hayley Dalmon (Strath), Eleanor Taylor (Aberdeen), Rupal Ghelani (Loughborough), Elly White (Huddersfield), Emily McCabe (Manchester)


AnnieB
So: Rupal Ghelani, Kate Stafford, Helena Slater, Ellie Taylor and Nelly Henzler. Yes, lots of Scottish players #sorrynotsorry. Chosen for speed, and mad D. So many different lines could be written and all would be fantastic


AnnieB
So, another awesome Nationals! Glad to talk through these questions with you all-as always.


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