Loreto face the toughest possible quarter-final in the EuroHockey Club Cup as they look to dethrone Den Bosch, the dominant force for almost 20 years, when they meet in Amsterdam.
The Beaufort club are meeting the three in-a-row winners who have also won the competition 17 times since the year 2000 and feature a plethora of the side that won the World Cup last summer with the Netherlands.
Nonetheless, Hannah Matthews is delighted to take on the challenge: “Although it seems like a daunting prospect we are so excited about playing them.
“I have never played Den Bosch before. Although it seems like a daunting prospect we are so excited about playing them.
“It will be a huge step up for us of course but the team is relishing the opportunity. When you go to Europe, you want to play against the best teams in the world and we will. We will obviously have to have a strong defensive performance but we will also watch as much video as we can so we’re aware of what we will be facing.”
She is looking forward to lively support come what may from the Loreto crowd who will be in good voice in the Wagener Stadium stands.
“Loreto love nothing more than a tour so Amsterdam may never recover! I’m biased but they are the best supporters. They have a huge influence on me when I play, I want to be the best I can be for my club because they are so supportive and so passionate when it comes to our team.”
Should they lose the tie, they will go into the fifth to eighth place playoffs; a shock win puts them into Sunday’s semi-finals.
In Kent, meanwhile, UCD will contest the EuroHockey Club Trophy. They take on the hosts Holcombe on Friday, Edinburgh University on Saturday and Dinamo Moscow in their last group game on Sunday before playing a classification match on Monday.
Miles Warren will be without the hugely influential Lena Tice as well as Sophie Thomas for the competition but he can call on Leah McGuire, Beth Barr, Ellen Curran and Hannah McLoughlin who have all had injury issues of late.
“It’s going to be another challenge and step up that our young squad has had to face this season but I have full confidence that we can perform well and be competitive in every game.
“Our group is going to be extremely difficult since the three opponents have all won their respective regular season leagues. Holcombe lost the play off finals this weekend but they topped the league phase and with them being our first game it will be like a final since only the group winner had a chance of winning gold.
“Edinburgh University have won the Scottish league for the last three years so they will be very tough and we don’t know much about the Russian team but we play them on day three so will do some scouting on them while we are there.
“Nothing is ever easy in sport and if you want to achieve you need to be well prepared firstly and then be willing to push yourself to the limits at these events.
“It’s going to be very tough but we are looking forward to the challenge and no matter what the final outcome we will learn and grow as a group from it.”
Women’s weekend fixtures
European Club Cup quarter-final: Loreto v Den Bosch, Amsterdam, 3.45pm
European Club Trophy: UCD v Holcombe, Rochester (England), 5.45pm
Saturday, April 20
European Club Trophy: UCD v Edinburgh, Rochester (England), 2.30pm
Sunday, April 21
European Club Trophy: UCD v Dinamo Moscow, Rochester (England), 2.30pm