14 TEAMS GAIN LEAGUE PROMOTION… 10 UP ON LAST SEASON
Whilst the winning percentage for Week 19 was down, the spirit across the Blades was high, with some amazing performances and outstanding league results!
WEEK 19 HIGHLIGHTS:
Men’s Volleyball 1st swept aside visiting Northumbria 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 28-26) to earn their place in the BUCS Championship Final. While this victory marked an important milestone for the Men’s Volleyball programme, it also holds a greater significance for sports in general at the University of Essex. By winning, the Men’s Performance Volleyball team became the first team in the history of the University to advance to a BUCS Championship Final. The Blades will play Durham 1st in the final on Wednesday 27th March, who finished with a perfect 10:0 record in the Premier North this season. The match will be part of BUCS Big Wednesday at the University of Nottingham.
Several members of the winning Blades team shared their thoughts on the game:
“I thought yesterday was a great team win. Everyone played an important role and stepped up their game when needed. We came out strong from the first point, playing with purpose and intensity, and were able to carry that momentum throughout. In my opinion, our serving and blocking were the best they’ve been all year, causing Northumbria a lot of problems, and being a huge contributing factor to our win. The resilience we showed in the third set was what I was most impressed with. Although we were behind for a majority of the set, we never stopped fighting, never panicked or hung our heads, which allowed us to maintain our composure and win the match.” – Brendan Surane #12
“You could feel that every single person, from the time we stepped into the locker room, had one singular focus. It didn’t matter what role you were playing, everyone invested all they had into that game. We set a goal over six months ago, and now we are one game away.” – Conner Brandland #4
"Being part of the beginning of the volleyball performance programme, it's been great to see how far the programme has come in such a short space of time. The atmosphere was amazing in the arena and the way we played was an extremely high level. We train really hard and Northumbria couldn't keep with the standards we set ourselves and that is why we are now competing for the gold. The team have worked so hard for this all year and we can’t wait for the final in 2 weeks’ time." – Toby French #6
“I thought we executed the game-plan perfectly. We spent some time analyzing our opponents and really implemented the coach’s instructions during our gameplay. The game itself was amazing. We really played to our strengths and kept Northumbria out of system many times with our aggressive serving. We didn’t let up, and kept being aggressive despite the occasional error or two. Lastly, the crowd was great, they really supported us and made lots of noise; ultimately giving us the momentum to finish off the game 3-0!” – Ali Ahmed #19
“It was great to see what we have been working so hard for this year: the training sessions, small group sessions, and the weight room, come together. We came out hot firing on all cylinders, playing what looked like seamless and effortless volleyball. Everyone was doing their job. It was awesome to make history and advance to the finals with a commanding victory in front of a lively home crowd.” – Logan Zotovich #8
Women’s Football 1st knew they were in for a tough game this week after a narrow 3-2 win away against Royal Holloway just before Christmas, but the girls learnt what they needed to do to get the upper hand.
Essex were missing 2 of their usual starting 11 and their coach, with Janvi Patel starting for the first team for the first time this season, coming up from 2nd team, and she did not disappoint on the right-wing. The first 10 minutes of the game was filled with constant pressure from Royal Holloways strikers, but it seemed to be nothing that Essex’s defence couldn’t handle. After one through ball from midfield, Left Winger Georgina Tayman slotted home a goal to put Essex 1-0 up. After the first goal it came naturally that Essex’s performance sky rocketed, with a goal from Katherine Hatton taking us to 2-0. After a training session focused around set pieces, it soon came into action when Essex were awarded their first corner of the game, with Georgina swinging the ball in to Rachel Lynch’s feet to smash home another for Essex making it 3-0.
In the dying minutes before the half time whistle Essex found a break through from the halfway line, with a beautiful display of short and sharp passes leading onto striker Izzy Walling’s feet to send a rocket into the back of the net. Essex 4-0 Royal Holloway at half-time.
The start of the second half saw Essex become somewhat complacent with their lead as Royal Holloway slotted home 2 easy goals from long through balls. Essex slowly started to regain their form yet Royal Holloway manged to break down the defence for a third time, making the score 4-3 with 25 minutes of the game remaining.
Despite the drop in performance, Essex continued to play a higher line and whilst on the attack the ball quickly turned over leading to Holloway breaking through on a few occasions, only to be met by defenders Emily Brocklehurst, Cerys Cousins, Rachel, and Alysha Bliss, showing a display of fantastic defensive football towards the later half of the second half.
Central Midfielder Holly Coughlan managed to curl a shot round the Holloway defence to take Essex up to a 5-3 lead. With only 10 minutes of the game remaining, Essex displayed some beautiful football whilst maintaining almost all of the possession - in the dying seconds Katherine managed to get on the end of a through ball and slotted home her second. Essex 6-3 Royal Holloway, the final score.
Alice Firth battles for possession during Essex Women's 1st impressive 6-3 win over Royal Holloway 1st this week.
Men’s Basketball 2nd played against Kent 2nd last BUCS Wednesday. The game was extremely tight, with every moment and every shot being crucial as the Blades won by a narrow 65-64.
Men’s Lacrosse 1st played their last league game of the season away vs Imperial 2nd. The boys took the 7-2 win, with goal scorers being Tom Dacey (4 goals), Paddy Gilbert (2) and Alex Mickhael (1). This left them tied at the top of the table with Canterbury, however, based on head to head, Essex came out on top. That means the Blades have been promoted! Well done to Essex. They still have their Lacrosse 8’s Championship Tournament to compete in on Sunday 31st March, so good luck boys!
Essex Men's Lacrosse 1st after their 7-2 win over Imperial 2nd - another Blades team who won their league this week.
Women’s Rugby 1st faced Kent 1st at home last week for their final game of the season. Yet another team who rose to the challenge, won 87-17 and are now being promoted to the league above! Huge well done to the girls.
Rosie Kay drives forward for Essex as our Women's Rugby 1st secured the league title with a huge 87-17 win over Kent 1st.
Women’s Tennis 2nd hosted Canterbury Christ Church 1st on Wednesday. Having had a stable season, in at 3rd place, Essex went in to this game with determination. It paid off, as they won 10-2!
Women’s Lacrosse 1st like the Men’s team, also headed to Imperial to face their 2nd team. A positive result in this match secured Essex a top 3 finish in the their league, after coming away with a 10-7 win!
And last but by no means least, American Football 1st were victorious over the much-fancied Bournemouth Bobcats this weekend, continuing their undefeated season with a win of 12-0! The game kicked off in relatively benign conditions with both teams feeling each other out as you might expect in such an important fixture. Punts were exchanged before the Blades, missing starting RB Zak Newton, drove the ball on the back of tough inside running from 3rd year man Al Taki and deft fakes and keepers from QB Will Molyneux. Short yardage plays were taken care of by use of the fabled “Double Barrel” offensive formation. Eventually the ball was driven down to the Bobcat’s 1 yard line where the Double Barrel was employed again for Taki to squirm in for the game’s opening score. A less than perfect snap meant that the extra point was missed and the game stood at 6-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Now the weather began to come into play with high winds and hail storms effectively grounding both teams passing games. The excellent Blades defence snuffed out every attempt by the visitors to move the ball and the game became one of field position and ball control. A number of huge punts, some into a very blustery wind, from the Blades continued to push the Bobcats back stifling any chance to begin a drive from a good field position. The first of two interceptions on the day by Blades CB Emilien Etienne snuffed out any chance to get on the scoreboard and the half ended at 6-0.
The decision by the Bobcats to take the ball in the second half proved a fateful one. This meant the Blades had the choice of end to defend and Coach O’Hare elected to ensure we played with the wind at our backs in the 4th quarter. This decision looked less brilliant when the wind dropped completely and the sun broke through as soon as we kicked off. The Bobcats continued to run the ball, a ploy which had proved unsuccessful in the first half and remained so all day. A single pass completion for 15 yards was the biggest gain for the south coast side all day and again, punts were exchanged with the Blades driving the ball deep into the opponents half over and over again.
As the 4th quarter began the weather gods smiled again on the Blades, the wind picked up again and we were treated to a second hail storm. The bobcats were now showing signs of desperation as the Blades defence swarmed over them again and again. Totally unable to run or pass the ball the Bobcats were forced to punt into the teeth of the gale. The kick was short and the Blades took over at midfield. Sweeps from Ifeade Adewoyin helped to move the ball against a tiring and beaten up Bournemouth defence leading to Molyneux firing a perfectly weighted pass to Adewoyin on a crossing pattern, with a lot of work still to do the 1st year back weaved and jinked his way into the corner of the Endzone for the second and final score of the game. The Blades were able to effectively manage the last 6 minutes of the game out for an historic win and a place in the Southern final.
It is a measure of the effectiveness of the blades defence that the Bobcats were limited to 11 possessions, 9 of which were 3 and out, 3 first downs (2 by penalty) and a total offensive output of minus 3 yards from 41 total plays. Two interceptions for 30 yards, 2 sacks for minus 19 yards and a forced fumble added to the Blades dominance and mean that two playoff games have resulted in zero points for our opponents.
Essex are now into the Conference Cup Finals against Royal Holloway Bears, held at Wivenhoe Park on the 31st March! Having an undefeated season has also meant that the team are now promoted for next year.
SUMMARY OF BUCS RESULTS – WEEK 19
Winning Percentage: 36%
Currently, the University of Essex is in 35th place in the BUCS national rankings, with a total of 1005 BUCS points.
Moving away from BUCS, the Dance Club held a show at the Lakeside Theatre this weekend. It was a great success with over 100 tickets sold! Well done to Essex Dance.
Performers from the Essex Dance showcase held in the Lakeside Theatre at the weekend.
An excellent season has seen Essex improve from from 4 BUCS league titles in 2017/18 to a huge 14 BUCS league titles this year! A huge congratulations is in order to the FOURTEEN teams, who this year have topped their league.
Mixed American Football 1st
Men’s Basketball 2nd
Women’s Basketball 1st
Women’s Basketball 2nd
Women’s Fencing 1st
Men’s Hockey 1st
Men’s Hockey 2nd
Men’s Lacrosse 1st
Women’s Rugby 1st
Men’s Table Tennis 1st
Women’s Table Tennis 1st
Women’s Tennis 1st
Men’s Tennis 2nd
Men’s Volleyball 1st
Just one week left to go now, and that will be the season over for the majority of BUCS clubs! Next week we have our last few fixtures along with some non-BUCS events. Good luck to Cheerleading who will be competing at their ICC University Nationals on the 24th March, and to Korfball who have their BUCS Trophy Championships in Sheffield this weekend.