Varsity Men’s Hockey: Uni 2-2 Trent (Trent win 5-4 on flicks)

19th March 2012

The Men’s Hockey team have every reason to feel aggrieved after losing to Trent on penalties under controversial circumstances.

Although both teams looked lively in when in possession, Uni had the lion’s share of the ball but were unable to convert their control of play into goals in what was a frustrating first half. In fact, a couple of counter-attacking surges from Trent almost put Uni in hot water, with the Uni keeper having to make several point-blank reflex saves to keep the scores level. The large number of fouls conceded by both sides stopped the first half developing any real rhythm. But the first half started with a bang after Richard Lawrence hammered home a stunning captain’s goal from long range. This was followed immediately by a Trent counter-attack which led to Uni conceding a short corner, which was well taken and converted to secure Trent an equalizer. Trent were well drilled for the set pieces, which showed when just two minutes later they rapidly converted another, leaving the scores 2-1 in Trent’s favour.

But going down seemed to be the stimulus that Uni needed to step up their game, and they proceeded to put Trent under unrelenting pressure for the remainder of the second half. Trent were for the most part able to soak up the pressure and forced Uni to work hard to try and open up gaps, but the longer play went on the more dangerous Uni looked. Then came a fast counter-attack down the left flank by Uni, and a simple cross into the D which was placed cleanly into the back of the net – but the goal was disallowed, a decision which left many members of the crowd puzzled and Uni’s players feeling frustrated. However, Uni kept up the heat on Trent and soon won a short corner, with Richard Bullard placing a rebound off the Trent keeper into the goal to level things once again. Uni scored once more, but this goal was also disallowed as it resulted from a deflection off a Uni attacker’s foot – a much less divisive decision than the earlier disallowed goal. Consequently, the scores were locked at 2-2 at full-time, and the onlooking crowd were treated to the drama of penalties.

Penalty flicks in hockey involve a large element of chance, as the small size of the ball and speed at which it moves makes the keeper’s ability to save shots mostly a matter of luck. As it happened, Trent had fortune on their side on Friday night, because after both sides converted four out of four flicks, Trent’s goalkeeper was able to second-guess Uni’s fifth penalty taker and save the shot. A simple bottom-left flick for Trent secured them the win. It was a real shame for the Uni boys to lose under the circumstances, as their play was tenacious throughout, and did not merit the final score of 2-2 and ultimate, galling loss.

Mike Gaffney