|The DMUK Widnes Wild women at the 2023 BWIHF Tournament in Bristol
The DMUK Widnes Wild women’s team enjoyed a roller coaster weekend down in the South west, as they took part in the annual Bristol Women’s Friendship Tournament for the first time since 2018.
This is a fairly unique competition as it involves teams from the different EIHA divisions – Elite League, Division 1 and Divisions 2 North & South - all playing against each other in one big qualifying group. Over the course of the Saturday - and the early part of Sunday - all the teams play each other and the top four in the final group standings go on to play in semi-finals and then a final – played with a slightly longer match time - on the Sunday evening.
Widnes actually led the table after the first round of games after a 6-0 slaughtering of the Cardiff team who had beaten them in the Play Off semi final 4 weeks earlier.
An eye watering 20 shots peppered the Cardiff net over the 15 minute game and the goals came from Katie Fairclough (2), Lise Gillen (2), Catherine Fell & Rachael Pearce. Widnes netminder Stephanie Drinkwater ended up with the bizarre combination of a shut out and a 0% Save Percentage, as the overwhelmed Cardiff team didn’t manage a single shot on goal.
The Wild women went on to draw 0-0 with Caledonia Steel Queens, lose 3-1 to Nottingham – with the Widnes goal coming from Ellen Tyrer - beat Streatham 1-0 (goal from Lise Gillen) and then lose 4-0 to hosts Bristol to end the day in 6th place in the table with 5 points from 5 games.
Sunday’s group games saw a 3-0 win over Oxford – with goals from Katie Fairclough, Victoria Connelly and Leen de Decker - a 1-1 draw with the Firebees (goal from Rachael Pearce) and a 3-0 win over Coventry (Fairclough, Connelly & Laura Marcroft).
This led to an exciting finale in the group stage where Widnes played their last game knowing that they needed to beat Milton Keynes to climb into 4th place in the table and qualify for the semi final. Unfortunately, MK won that game 1-0 leaving the Wild women in 6th place overall out of 10 teams with a record of 4 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws.
The semi finals saw Bristol beat Caledonia 1-0 and Nottingham beat Milton Keynes 3-2. In a bit of a shock result, Nottingham then beat Bristol 3-2 in the final - the only game that the host team had lost all weekend.
Katie Fairclough was the Wild women’s top points scorer for the weekend with 4 goals and 2 assists in the 9 group games. Leen de Decker was second with 1+3, Lise Gillen weighed in with 3+0 while Rachael Pearce and Victoria Connelly both contributed 2+1.
The Wild women now have a few weeks’ break before they return to training in August in preparation for the new 2023/24 WNIHL season.