WEST LONDON VARSITY PREVIEW: Men's hockey team chase four-year win streak
Sports Gazette talks to St. Mary's men's Hockey President Alex Rooney ahead of their match against Brunel at West London Varsity on Wednesday 29th March.
Sports Gazette: What were the positives and negatives this season?
Alex Rooney: We've had a very trying year, coming off the back of a fantastic season that saw us promoted into the Prem and beat Brunel for the third year running, but we also had to say goodbye to a large and strong portion of the squad to graduation.
So in this light, we've had a large positive of influx in players, a great group of lads, who are looking to improve and build the club to go further forward.
Another big positive has to be our overnight away day to Cardiff, we socialised with them and had a fantastic evening! We are not without our negatives though, with relegation being a tough pill to swallow after some tough games this season.
SG: What are the team's strengths and weaknesses?
AR: Due to the small size of the club, we are very strong socially, and we are a very close knit bunch of lads. Along with this, we perform quite highly and punch above our weight when it comes to numbers and size of the club.
Unfortunately though, this comes as a weakness as well. It means injury can have a large effect on our team, as we have little depth.This year, our play style has changed, and we will be looking to exploit Brunel in other ways than dominating the ball and total possession.”
SG: Who is your key-player? Who is your defensive rock? Who is your topscorer?
AR: Our Captain and Master and Commander Scott Wilkie is one of our major key players, with a mean drag flick, huge aerial threat and mean tackle, he definitely leads by example.
Another key player is our forward Ali Hitch, who has Junior International, National Prem and Euro Hockey League experience, he is a real threat on and off the ball.
SG: How did last year's Varsity go? Are there things you will approach differently?
AR: Last year's Varsity was a 3-1 win. We dominated the game, but failed to put away our chances to make it a real thrashing. This year, our playing style has changed, and we will be looking to exploit Brunel in other ways than dominating the ball and total possession.
SG: How important is beating Brunel?
AR: It is and isn't. The atmosphere at Varsity makes it a fantastic game to play, and we sit on a 3-year win streak against them, but, like always, we approach it like any other game. We do our jobs, we work hard, and keep it simple.
SG: What's your score prediction?
AR: Hopefully a decent show for both sides is up for grabs, maybe a 3-2 win, fingers crossed!
St. Mary's men's hockey will face Brunel at 2pm on the Multi-Use Pitch so make sure you head down to give them your full support!
If you can't make it, we'll be bringing Varsity to you with our live blog on the day! Check out the Sports Gazette for the latest on Varsity!