The University of the West Indies (UWI), at Cave Hill, Barbados

The University of the West Indies

at Cave Hill, Barbados

Nicoles Earn Blackbirds 1 Point in Season Opener
 Dawson and Hall hit the target to draw 2-2 with Banks Hockey Club
After many setbacks, the 2011 domestic hockey league finally got on the way yesterday evening, with a fixture between the UWI Blackbirds and Banks in the Women’s Division 1 category.

The Blackbirds got off to a slow start, finding some difficulty in completing passes and maintaining their structure, as Banks enjoyed much of the attack for most of the first half.  Nicole Dawson, who was a member of the recently triumphant UWI Games team, played an instrumental role in the defense, thwarting the majority of attacks against her team. Not to be outshone or outplayed, captain Shani Best worked tirelessly in the midfield, exhibiting great stick still and speed, linking up with Dawson on few occasions, as well as her other team mates. However, the blackbirds could not peck a direct path to the goal and take advantage of Banks’ kickerback, as Best could not capitalize on her darting runs.

After knocking on the birds’ nest a few times, the Banks girls finally drew first blood when the Blackbirds failed to pressure one of their attackers, who played a ball to her unmarked team mate in the D, two minutes before half time. This stuck a pin in the wings of the UWI girls, sending them into the half time break trailing 1-0.

Coach Colin Elcock highlighted the basic errors made by the Blackbirds, the girls got refreshed and took the field for the second half.

Although making few mistakes occasionally, Dawson continued her good work in the second half. Eight minutes after the restart, Dawson made a dazzling run down the left flank and cut across to the right of the D, where she sent a low sweeping shot to the far post, beating an inexperienced Banks custodian and getting the equalizer for the Blackbirds.

Not to settle for flying at the same level with Banks, the Blackbirds pressed for another goal and were rewarded in the 48th minute. Nicole Hall received a pass in the D, evaded her marker with a turn, and pushed the ball into the goal, giving her team the lead with a 2-1 score.

The girls tried to maintain the momentum of coming from behind and grab another goal, but it was not meant to be. The match continued with both teams enjoying 50% of the ball possession, seemingly heading for a 2-1 finish in favour of the Blackbirds. However, in a shocking twist of events late in the half, the Blackbirds handed Banks a lifeline, when an unfocussed Gina Belle completely missed the ball, as she tried to make an up field pass from the top of her own D. Banks got a free hit as a result, which was quickly taken, and took advantage of a disorganized UWI defense to tie the score at 2-2.

Neither team was able to hit the target in the remaining few minutes causing the match to end in a draw, leaving the Blackbirds with 1 point. 

- Nevin Roach -