On a night when it was quite feasibly drier at the swimming pool at the Stevenson Building than the horrific wind and rain occurring outside, Glasgow’s Women Waterpolo team suffered their first defeat of the season to a clinical and robust Stirling University team.
Stirling showed their intent early on, scoring with their first attempt of the game within the first ninety seconds. It was a sign of things to come in the first quarter, with Stirling’s attacking play appearing to overwhelm Glasgow. Pre-match optimism was swiftly drowned out by the fluid passing of the visitor’s play, with goalkeeper Sarah Hirschfield needing to be alert to keep Stirling from fully capitalising on their early pressure. Yet despite her efforts, Glasgow found themselves down by six after the first quarter, and with the proverbial mountain to climb if they were to continue their unbeaten run.
The second quarter brought with it Glasgow’s first goal of the game as Nikki Sutcliffe found the back of the net from close range after two minutes of the match’s resumption. Indeed Glasgow started to show some of the play which earned them victories in their first two matches of the season. The half-time score was 9-1, an improvement on the first quarter, but Glasgow will be disappointed with themselves that the gap in score line was not further reduced. Having created far more chances, with one of Kirsten Hunter’s efforts striking the crossbar and Mia Kimmelman firing just wide, a deficit of eight and a solitary goal was not a fair reflection on how Glasgow had managed to make Stirling work much harder.
That Glasgow were not able to reduce the deficit even further will be of great disappointment for the team. A second strike by Nikki Sutcliffe and a goal from Leah Kellet in the third quarter were to be the only times Glasgow were to get the ball past the Stirling goalkeeper. By the end of the third quarter Glasgow were trailing by ten, with only three goals to their name. But what was becoming apparent as the match progressed was the unsavoury tactics resorted to by Stirling.
Due to the momentum produced by their dominant first quarter, towards the end of the three quarter the result did not appear in doubt. Yet some of the Glasgow players, Zoe Cuthbert especially, found themselves on the receiving end of some manoeuvres which would receive police cautions on a typical Friday night on Sauchiehall Street. Not only were these tactics uncalled for within the context of the match, but it also made the match scrappy for players and spectators alike. The final quarter provided goals, unfortunately all for Stirling, with the full time score being 16-3 to the visitors.
On reflection, captain Kirsten Hunter was philosophical about her team’s first defeat of the season. “If we won all the time then we would have nothing to improve on!” she said after the match. When discussing how the first quarter appeared to set the tone for the rest of the match, Hunter admitted her disappointment. “They had some really good players” she said, “and maybe this intimidated us in the first quarter. However we did well to get back in the match from the tough start and to prevent the margin (of defeat) getting larger”. Regarding Glasgow’s own performance, their limited movement in the pool was their major downfall, since it slowed down their play. Stirling’s abrasive strategy towards Glasgow, especially from the third quarter onwards was largely unnecessary agreed Hunter, but she was happy with how her team kept their composure despite this. Glasgow will be disappointed by the defeat, but with their next match against Dundee just around the corner, the chance of redemption is not far away.