Published: 00:00, 12 January 2018
Holcombe ladies exceeded expectations at the weekend by qualifying for the Jaffa Super 6s finals.
With many of their most experienced players missing, Holcombe were hoping to consolidate their position in the Indoor Premier Division in what was only their second season at that level.
But in a thrilling climax, Holcs got the win they needed against Leicester to finish third and make the finals at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on January 28.
Player/coach Leigh Maasdorp said: “To have qualified in third was great, the squad are ecstatic. It’s a great achievement. It means now the dynamics of the next few weeks change and we’ll be training for indoor rather than outdoor.”
Holcombe’s hopes of qualification came down to their final game against Leicester.
The opening weekend before Christmas, in Telford, had seen them win one and lose two, leaving them middle of the pack.
Holcombe’s Welsh contingent remained on international duty, meaning they were without Rose Thomas, Leah Wilkinson, Beth Bingham, Sarah Jones and Jo Westwood. Injuries also kept GB players Lucy Wood and Nicola White out.
Maasdorp was back, however, after missing the first round of games while in South Africa.
Last weekend’s action began with a 5-2 defeat against Bowdon Hightown but Holcombe stormed back with wins over Clifton (4-2) and Reading (6-1), setting up a final-game showdown against Leicester, knowing they had to win to qualify.
And in a thriller, Holcs clinched the match 6-5 to pip Leicester into third place and set up a semi-final meeting with Bowdon in the finals later this month.
Maasdorp said: “With the amount of players we had missing, our goal was to stay up and it was pleasing to have finished third, with half of the squad having not played indoor before.”
Ellie Watton finished the tournament with an impressive 12 goals, the third-top scorer.
Pip Lewis and captain Steph Elliott claimed four goals and Tanya Britz and Harriet Pittard scored three. Dirkie Chamberlain (2), Emma Trunks and schoolgirl Sophie Eldred also got on the scoresheet.
Holcombe men ended their Premier Division indoor campaign in sixth spot, four points off fourth place, after winning one of their games last weekend.
Back-to-back defeats on Saturday, against Reading (4-3) and eventual table-toppers Wimbledon (7-3), left them with a slim chance of qualifying. But a 5-4 victory over Surbiton, who finished third, was followed by a 5-5 draw against Brooklands MU.
Nick Bandurak was Holcombe’s leading scorer with 11 goals.
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