After an agonizing defeat against top of the league Welford Hockey Club, DMU Mixed Hockey spent the next 20 hours mentally preparing for the the team’s biggest fixture, Varsity.
Reigning champions since 2013 when DMU clinched victory in extra time leaving University of Leicester red faced and their captain in tears, DMU knew this would be no easy win. Last year, the score was tied at extra time leading the match to go on to penalty flicks in which DMU secured a glorious 4-1 win.
University of Leicester Mixed Hockey are currently in Division One of the Leicester Mixed Hockey Association whilst DMU compete in Division Four. Not to let this phase them, DMU Hockey Club went into the game with their sights on the prize: retaining their trophy for the third year running.
With the night before spent watching motivational videos courtesy of Men’s Vice-Captain, Matt Lilley, the team prepared mentally for the challenge they faced the next day. Carb loading, solid sleep and protein breakfasts and the team were off to their home ground, St Margaret’s Pastures.
Despite the UoL support outnumbering DMU 2 to 1, the team had a solid warm up lead by Captain Declan Shepherd and Men’s Captain Benjamin Gunner after an inspirational team talk at the clubhouse.
Warmed up and ready to play, the whistle was blown and the match began. Possession remained equal until an early attack by DMU saw them scoring in the first 5 minutes and dampening the UoL spirit. The goal by Lilley who did not even realise he had scored rallied the DMU support to cheer louder than UoL. Rolling substitutions meant everyone to played to their limit before a short break to regain composure which allowed DMU to be giving 110% every minute on the pitch.
UoL not to be deterred came along to attack but were always thwarted by the solid defence comprising of Charlie Wood, Ed Hatt-Lipscomb, David Brefo-Boateng, Charlotte Hutsby, Lydia Briggs and Narmeen Kamran as well as goalkeeper and club Social Secretary Leighton James. Although being awarded several short corners in the first half, UoL failed to convert.
Another surprise and strong attack by DMU left UoL running back to their goal but not before club Chairman Liam Egan-Rayner scored the second goal of the game. The first half ended with the score 2-0 to DMU.
Captain Shepherd reminded the team at half time to not get complacent with the scoreline as UoL will be fighting even harder during the second half. With all of this in mind the team started the second half with another aggressive push as though they had only just started the match.
Short corners were awarded to both sides although both teams failed to convert every time. On hearing that there were six minutes left of the game both DMU and UoL gave it their all as anything can happen in six minutes.
UoL were awarded a short corner as the final whistle was blown. Knowing this was their final chance and DMU had already won, UoL used the rules of hockey to their full advantage, sending all 10 outfield players into DMU’s end of the pitch whilst DMU were only able to have their goalkeeper and four players to defend a heavy attack on their goal line. After a few saves, a very lucky UoL play managed to push the ball across the goal line leaving the final score 2-1 to DMU.
DMU supporters rushed onto the pitch whilst the DMU team shook hands with the UoL team. This was succeeded by a champagne shower and a team meal at DMUHC sponsors, Soar Point.
Goalkeeper James said “Charlie Wood left what can only be described as an assault on the nostrils. The smell then reminded me of something, the sweet smell of victory”
Charlie Wood added “We like to play.”
Men’s Captain Lilley said “It was like any game, I went through my pre-game rituals, listened to the Grease medley and dropped some Timber.”
The final word came from Captain Shepherd who said “It was a fantastic game to play in and every single person raised their game for the big occasion. We knew from experience how good a team UoL are, playing three leagues above us and we knew they’d be cohesive as a team. We put a brick wall in front of our goal that they couldn’t find a way through and were clinical with our chances that came our way. To celebrate winning again with all our supporters made a year of hard work worth it.”
DMU Hockey Club carry on their Varsity campaign on 18 March at St Margaret’s Pastures. Men’s 1st XI push back at 2:30pm with the Women’s 1st XI pushing back at 4pm.