L1 Open Season at Loughborough Students on Saturday
Surbiton Ladies begin their quest for a seventh successive Investec Women’s Hockey League championship on Saturday when they travel to newly promoted Loughborough Students (push back 2 pm).
Loughborough return to the top flight of English hockey for the first time since the 2000-01 season when they were relegated after finishing bottom of the table in their only season in the Premier Division.
After spending several seasons in the Conference North, Loughborough finally won promotion via the Promotion Tournament after winning the Conference North last season. A 5-1 win over Conference West champions Stourport and a stunning 3-0 victory over Slough, ninth placed finishers in last season’s Premier Division saw Loughborough join Conference East champions, Hampstead & Westminster in the 2019-20 Premier Division. Hampstead beat Loughborough 1-0 in the Promotion Tournament.
Surbiton will come up against a familiar face as Izzy Petter will be in the Loughborough line-up after winning international honours whilst at Sugden Road. Victoria McCabe has also moved to Loughborough from Clifton Robinsons whilst of last season’s promotion winning squad, Charlotte Daly has joined Holcombe; Hannah Cozens has moved south to East Grinstead and Brooke Butler has joined Surbiton.
It will be “Players Reunited” this season for Surbiton with Holly Munro returning from the University of Birmingham; Eloise Stenner coming back from Beeston and Lilie Lamacraft also re-registered to the reigning league champions.
Surbiton last played at Loughborough in the Investec Women’s Cup semi-final in March 2015, penalty corner conversions from Jenna Woolven and Emily Atkinson giving Surbiton a 2-0 win.
Surbiton also came out on top in Round 3 the season before but only after having to battle against a feisty Loughborough team before going through with a 4-3 home win. With 14 minutes remaining, Surbiton were cruising with a 4-1 lead through Stenner, Atkinson, Sandra Roche and Woolven, but former Surbiton player Ellie Tait, who had given Loughborough the lead, scored two late goals to give the hosts a few anxious moments before the final whistle.
Elsewhere on opening day, Buckingham are at home to Clifton Robinsons; Holcombe host East Grinstead; Beeston welcome Hampstead & Westminster to Nottingham and the University of Birmingham take on Bowdon Hightown.