Murrayfield Curling, 11th March 2012
The task facing Edinburgh’s team was simple – win or peel and the club would avoid finishing bottom of the Linlithgow League for a second time. Sadly, they were unable to do so despite a great effort in a crucial game.
The same team that had lost out to DAFS the previous week returned to face Heriots FP, a team that the University had defeated in their encounter earlier in the season by 8 shots to 3. Only Schuyler Ward remained from that victorious team.
With hammer in the first, Edinburgh began at a decent standard and looked good to take their two but skip Chernoff’s draw was unsuccessful and just a single was counted.
Into the second and Chernoff was left with a tricky angled raise to try and steal – a shot he pulled off skilfully in the previous week’s fixture. Once again, his attempt was on target but had too much pace and left Heriots to take their two.
Edinburgh began to pick up on their opponents’ reluctance to hit anything so an offensive style of play ensued as guards were put up by McCrossan and Ward leaving Edmunds able to draw in behind. Edinburgh’s third’s great freeze in the third was tapped back beautifully by Heriots who left Chernoff with a draw for one which he executed soundly when facing several opposition counters.
It is fair to say that Heriots enjoyed several slices of luck during the day’s game where stones either changed handles (or none was put on) and in each case they resulted favourably – much to Edinburgh’s frustration but, to their credit, the students carried on regardless. The fourth end was heavily congested once more and Heriots again took their two as, like the DAFS game, the scoreboard began to display symmetry.
If the game had a turning point, it was the fifth. The end had started brightly for Edinburgh but they failed to seize on the opportunity to restrict Heriots – Edmunds’ flash on a shot stone by inches being typical. Fortune again smiled on Heriots as a handle-less stone split some of their stones just out of the house into biters. A cluster of three stones in the 12 foot was causing Edinburgh concern and, with the hammer, Chernoff had the choice of coming in with a very heavy weight and attempting to remove what he could or to draw the eight foot for a one. Chernoff had his rhythm disrupted somewhat by a heavy fall on another sheet but he settled himself and played a draw that ultimately came up short and meant Heriots had stolen three. At 7-2 down it was looking ominous.
Heads dropped in the immediate aftermath of the fifth but Edinburgh were soon right back in it – Edmunds in particular raising his game and playing every shot asked of him. Consistent weight control from the back end saw Edinburgh take a two and reduce the deficit to just three shots with two ends to play.
The seventh end had to be stolen if Edinburgh wanted to have any chance of winning the game and, again, the team brought their play up a level. To ensure Heriots had as few stones in play as possible, Chernoff called for Ward to peel some guards that were protecting some opposition stones. While the line wasn’t exactly what had been called, Ward played it with sufficient weight that he disrupted three Heriots stones – two totally removed from play and one clinging on in the twelve foot. More great draws from Edmunds kept it tight and it came down to a measure but Heriots had taken a one meaning Edinburgh had to score at least a four in the final end to avoid the basement finish.
Edinburgh’s front-end, while showing glimpses of solid play during the game, now dropped off somewhat with all four first stones sailing straight through the house leaving Chernoff and Edmunds a very tough task. They buried stones as much as they could and Chernoff had a chance to draw for two with the hammer but it too went through the house leaving the students counting just a single, an 8-5 defeat and a bottom of the table finish for the 2011-12 season.
It perhaps shows how far the club has come in its league play that members now come off the ice bitterly disappointed with a three shot loss when previously, crushing defeats by ten points or more were almost expected going into each game.
Despite the dissatisfaction at finishing bottom again, there can be no doubt that the club’s performance, when compared with last season’s effort, is significantly better. Opposition teams of vastly more experienced players have remarked on the club’s progress and, in a game where respect and etiquette count for so much, every player who has played for Edinburgh University in the 2011-12 season can finish the competitive calendar with heads held that little bit higher.