Pegasus and Railway make move for playoffs as Elks fall back under Hermes power

Women’s EY Hockey League – day 17 round-up
UCC 1 (H Lehane) Pegasus 5 (S Ferris 2, H McMillan, P Glass, A Speers)

Pegasus have taken the advantage going into the closing round of matches in the race for the EY Champions Trophy playoff places following a comprehensive win at the Mardyke.

Hannah McMillan’s deflected corner shot in the first minute gave the Ulster side a flying start and went close to further goals – seeing another effort disallowed – via Alex Speers. UCC applied more pressure in the second quarter and, from their second corner, Holly Lehane scored to level the game up.

But Pegasus reasserted their lead from another corner – one in which UCC were short-handed for breaking the line – with Pamela Glass thumping into the bottom corner. Vanessa Surgeoner created the third when she slipped to Suzanne Ferris to finish at the right post in the 43rd minute.

Nikki Evans scored a hat trick on her return to the Hermes side. Picture: Philip McCloy (click for more images)

Nikki Evans scored a hat trick on her return to the Hermes side. Picture: Philip McCloy (click for more images)

Alex Speers got a touch to Hannah Grieve’s ball in for the fourth goal in the fourth quarter before Ferris completed the victory with a volley on the rebound. Pegasus sit second with one game remaining, giving them the upper hand going into a final league game with Ulster Elks on April 2.

Ulster Elks 0 Hermes 7 (N Evans 3, C Watkins 2, A O’Flanagan, N Carroll)

Hermes ended Ulster Elks run of five successive league wins in the most dramatic style at Jordanstown as they shook off their own recent poor form in an emphatic way.

It took just three minutes to get on the scoreboard with an initial shot hitting the post but falling straight to Nikki Evans to tap in the deflection. Megan Frazer hit a post in reply for the Elks but it was the closest they came to scoring and they were 2-0 down at the end of the first quarter when Chloe Watkins scored with a low drag-flick.

Naomi Carroll extended the lead with one of the goals of the season, running with the ball on the bounce from the right of the D before flicking it up and smashing an upright backhand volley into the back of the net on 26 minutes.

The Elks started to come more into it in the third quarter, winning several penalty corners, but Emma Gray was equal to the challenge. Evans, though, scored once again for a 4-0 lead and her side added three more goals in the closing quarter with Anna O’Flanagan and Watkins’ second among them.

Evans completed her hat trick in what was her first game since returning from an injury sustained in the Irish Senior Cup tie against Ards.

Ards 1 (C Brown) Pembroke 3 (S Clarke, J Collins, E Horan)

Pembroke’s late season flurry of form lifted them to sixth place in the women’s EY Hockey League as Ards’ bid to escape the threat of a relegation playoff goes on for another few weeks.

Sarah Clarke, from a clever switch from left to right, was hit home from Pembroke’s third corner of the game for a 1-0 lead before half-time. The Dubliners continued their momentum into the second half with another couple of corners soon after the break, the second of which was scored by Jill Collins from a neat deflection.

Ards bounced back, forcing Stella Davis into a couple of smart saves but she was unable to stop Chloe Brown who picked up just inside the 23m line and drove into the left side of the circle. She jinked past three defenders before crashing a shot in from six yards.

Pembroke’s response was quick, however, and Eanna Horan got an important third for 3-1 before the third quarter was out. Ards pushed hard to find another lifeline and forced two early corners in the final quarter but nothing accrued. Ards sit two points above UCC with a game in hand and so a win will see them safe.

Cork Harlequins 3 (M Crowley 2, R Kohler) UCD 4 (D Duke, K Mullan, S Clarke, L Ewart)

UCD kept alive their hopes of a playoff place, ending Cork Harlequins’ prospects in the process as the students edged a thrilling 4-3 result at Farmer’s Cross. In a game that swung from end to end throughout, Quins broke the deadlock in the 12th minute when Cliodhna Sargent intercepted a pass and drove forward. She laid off to Miriam Crowley who slapped home for 1-0.

Hermes' Ellen Curran holds off Robyn Chambers. Pic: Philip McCloy

Hermes’ Ellen Curran holds off Robyn Chambers. Pic: Philip McCloy

Deirdre Duke and Gillian Pinder have missed a couple of games of late through injury but, back in situ, they caused plenty of danger. And they got level before half-time when Duke found herself with a hugely inviting chance that Dale Burkley did brilliantly to stop initially but rebounded back off the Quins goalkeeper and Duke again to end up in the goal.

Rachael Kohler restored the Quins lead – having earlier had a goal disallowed – from a corner strike. UCD levelled within two minutes as a fine run from Kate Lloyd ended with a cross for Sorcha Clarke who tapped in at the back post.

It became 3-2 in the 37th minute from the penalty spot with Katie Mullan coolly dispatching but the momentum switched back in the Cork side’s fabour when Crowley and Rachel Hobbs traded passes before the former swept in.

Leah Ewart, though, was to prove the game-breaker in the final quarter when she scored from a corner switch to the left for a 4-3 lead as they held off a stiff late challenge from Quins.

Railway Union 6 (S Canning, N Carey, J Douglas, Z Delany, A Heisterkamp, E Smyth) Greenfields 0

Railway Union eased to a 6-0 win over Greenfields to move back into the top three playoff places. Sarah Canning got them up and running from a corner rebound before twins Michelle and Niamh Carey combined through midfield with the latter slotting past Sinead Collins for 2-0 on quarter-time.

Jodie Douglas deflected in the third after good approach work from Emer Lucey for 3-0 at half-time. Captain Zara Delany got the fourth from a Michelle Carey shot that rebounded her way and Anna Heisterkamp’s reverse-stick shot accounted for goal number five. Emma Smyth closed out the scoring in the final period with a few individual skills before shooting home.

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