Edinburgh University’s women’s water polo first-team ventured into the unknown on the 28 January when they travelled to Kirkcaldy in Fife for the National Scottish Cup semi-finals.
It is not usually a pool where university water polo teams visit and this marked the first time that an Edinburgh University women’s team had entered it. On Saturday the girls travelled northwards to meet Western Baths, a team they had previously beaten in last year’s Scottish National League (SNL).
Coach Docherty’s hopes were high for an easy passage to the finals, but “you never know in a knockout competition.”
Edinburgh got off to a great start, leading the first period by a staggering eight goals to Western’s two, despite having to adapt to the conditions of the pool. Goals came from Amy Middlemast, Kasha Rodgers Smith, Kat McIntosh and Captain Marlies Nicholls and a high level of polo was played by all seven players in the water.
Going into the second period the girls wanted to maintain this momentum. Goals from McIntosh and Kirsty Liddon brought Edinburgh’s goal count to 13, with only 1 from Western.
Going into the third period, the tone changed as Edinburgh changed ends and were attacking into the shallower end of the pool. The high level dipped and only one shot from Sophie Clarke managed to see the back of the net. Western exploited Edinburgh’s decline and put two away, bringing the score to 14-5.
Despite Edinburgh’s attempt to play a slower build up in the last quarter, the girls did not manage to recapture the same energy from the first two quarters. Nevertheless, the game ended 20-6 to Edinburgh, with Emily Murphy adding herself to the score sheet.
Edinburgh had done enough to qualify for the final the next day, so on Sunday 29 January the girls returned to Kirkcaldy to play Menziehill from Dundee. The girls knew they had to take the drive from the first two quarters of the previous match and make it last the whole match.
Another solid start from Edinburgh put them in the right direction; goals from Middlemast, MacIntosh and Nicholls were met with only one reply from Menziehill, bringing the score at the end of the first quarter to 6-1. Just seconds into the second quarter, however, Edinburgh began to lag. The period ended with three goals a-piece and Menziehill began to look more of a threat. Going into the third quarter, both teams were fighting hard to break each other’s lines. Goals from Middlemast and MacIntosh ensured Edinburgh won the third quarter, but it was a slender margin.
Going into the final period, Edinburgh were up 12-6, but the girls were not finished yet. Middlemast put two more away, shoring up her position as highest goal-scorer for the match. Menziehill also managed two more, but Edinburgh’s McIntosh and Clarke claimed victory for Edinburgh in the last quarter. The final score of 16-8 meant the University team made history in competing in the tournament, and by claiming the title of Scottish Cup Champions.