Lancaster University women’s squash team will round off a fantastic season by picking up ‘The Team of the Year’ award at this year’s AU awards ceremony. The evening will see the equivalent award go to the Men’s 1sts football team, the only other team to go the whole season unbeaten.
Despite their success, the squash team began their season rather anxiously, with a concern over whether they would even have a full allocation of players. However, this was soon resolved with the acquisition of two outstanding first years, Timna Freeman and Samantha Preston who, combined with the return of Jo Hamlyn from a year abroad, helped bring stability to the team. In spite of overcoming the problem of insufficient numbers, no-one could have contemplated the successes that the team had in both League and Cup.
The team was un-playable under the tutelage of player-coach Hamlyn, winning every match in the league 4-0 to claim the title comfortably. The greatest shock was the team’s success in the North West conference cup though.
Lancaster got off to a flying start crushing Liverpool 1sts in the first round 4-0 in a dominant display, which put them in good stead for the next round of the cup which they drew Liverpool 2nds in the next round. This meant the team’s greatest worry in the second round could have been that of complacency; however there was no holding back by Lancaster on the day, as they romped to another 4-0 win.
Next up was an away tie against Bradford in the semi-finals, a team which Lancaster knew little about and did not know what to expect from. However, they were undaunted by the occasion and easily eradicated any negative thoughts about what could happen with an extremely confident 4-0 win again. The team had reached the cup final for the first time in their history.
The final took place in the first week of the Easter break with Lancaster drawn away against the only other unbeaten team in the Women’s conference division, Northumbria. Team Captain Georgina Baum spoke of the teams nerves leading up to the match. She said: “It was easily the most nervous we had been for any match all season.”
Lancaster got off to a flying start in the contest though, with Samantha Preston and Penny How putting in exceptional performances to see Lancaster go 2-0 up in the match with only 2 games left to play.
Northumbria’s top two were extremely resilient opponents though, and Lancaster’s Elanna Herod and Jo Hamlyn crashed to defeat for the first time all season. After an outstandingly close contest between the two sides, there was no splitting them, with the score tied at 2-2 in matches and even 8-8 on games.
The tie came down to points won in the end, which turned out to be beneficial to Lancaster, as after a tense wait the scores were revealed as 145-135 in Lancaster’s favour and they were crowned Northern Conference Cup champions. They had achieved the league and cup double in Baum’s first year at the helm.
The season was not quite over for Baum’s team though with the small matter of Roses still to be played. Lancaster demonstrated their dominance once more, with a crushing 5-0 defeat of York University, earning four points and helping the hosts towards a memorable victory.
The season was completed with the fantastic news that the team was to be named ‘Team of the Year’ at the University’s AU awards ceremony. Team Captain Baum was extremely pleased with the news and could not wait to tell the rest of her team. She said: “It will mark a fantastic end to a fantastic season for the team, bring on another year as Captain and hopefully we can do just as well again.”
Baum also wished to thank the Men’s 1st and 2nd teams for their amazing support throughout the year, with a special mention to President Dominic O’Brien and first team captain Ben Holden, who helped make it all possible.