After winning their third consecutive game of the season 14-11 against Exeter, the women’s lacrosse team seem set to continue the great form of the past two seasons. Gerald Wu caught up with co-captains Daniella Allard and Chesca Hirst to get the lowdown on the side.
What’s the feeling in the team after being crowned BUCS National Champions but losing Varsity?
DA: The Varsity loss definitely made us more determined to win BUCS for a second year running. It was especially tough for me as the team had never lost a match while I’ve been at Cambridge, and everyone was crushed by the result. Getting back on our feet was tough, but we had the BUCS title to fight for.
CH: Coming in as a fresher, I felt like the emphasis was put upon the Varsity win, so to lose after the previous wins was crushing, however the Blues BUCS championship win was such a lift to the whole club, and cemented us as the best in the country.
Given the record of the team over the past 2 years, how big of a shock and disappointment was the Varsity loss?
DA: It was hard to come to terms with because of our amazing success over the last few years. Oxford were just better on the day and didn’t give us a chance to play our game. Luckily, we were still in the running for BUCS so couldn’t dwell on the loss for two long. Our captains, Anna Pugh and Erin Walters, were the ones who picked us up and gave us the confidence to beat Birmingham in the semis and then Durham in the final. In a way, that BUCS win made up for the disappointment of Varsity and everyone was so proud of how we turned the season around.
CH: I don't think that you can call the Varsity loss a shock, as it’s a completely unique situation. It’s such a big event and so different from any other match in the season; anything can happen on the day. The following week, the team sat down and had a full debrief of the match. After that, we drew a line under the loss and turned our attentions to BUCS. It is testament to our determination and grit that we went on to triumph.
Looking ahead, which is the bigger target? Being BUCS Champions for the 3rd consecutive year or wining Varsity?
DA: Both are equally important to us. Varsity has all the tradition behind it and is one total grudge match, whereas you have to jump through so many hurdles to win BUCS. They’re very different but both mean so much to the team.
CH: I agree with Dani, it's impossible for me to put one above the other. Due to our win last year, BUCS is a very special and important tournament for me, but at the same time, there is nothing quite like Varsity and I think going away to Oxford and taking back the Varsity title on their turf would be incredible.
Did any freshers impress?
DA: We’ve had a huge intake of freshers this year. Chesca and I knew Katie Lehovsky and Sophie Morrill from our Under-19 England squad two years ago and Frances-May Gardiner is another fresher who plays internationally (for Wales’s senior team). Overall the standard is higher than ever and the new players have been a huge boost to the squad
CH: I was worried after the loss of so many great players at the end of last season, but we've taken on a large group of immensely talented freshers. They've brought a great energy to both teams and all seem to be settling in to the teams really well.
Are you feeling confident with the squad you have?
DA: Definitely. Chesca and I couldn’t have asked for a better intake and our senior players have a lot of experience. We’re very excited for the coming season and to watch the development of a new generation of CUWLC.
CH: To put it simply: yes. Even at preseason, it was obvious that we have such a large pool of talent this year. The boundless enthusiasm combined with great skills and fitness in this squad is quite unique. Dani and I are so excited to see what's in store for CUWLC this season!