Murrayfield Curling, 9th October 2011
Edinburgh University went into this match on the back of recording their first ever points in the Linlithgow Trophy- albeit on a technicality- in the previous game against the 37 Club. Â Despite the optimism emanating from that win, Â the team remained second-favourites against an Edinburgh Ladies team whose last result had been a 10 v 3 crushing of Heriots FP, Â and this game was viewed simply as good practice for the University team.
Edinburgh University gave Fiona McKay her debut at lead and promoted Eoin McCrossan to second following his good performance the previous week, Â to give a front end with only one game and three weeks of curling between them. Â The pair by no means disgraced themselves, Â a shaky start giving way to some tight curling. Â The more experienced back end comprised Ted Edmunds at third, Â with Katie McGaan restored at skip following a week’s absence.
Edinburgh got off to a great start, Â stealing both the first two ends to take a 2-0 lead against a team who were strong, Â but whose preceding imperious reputation had perhaps been unfounded. Â The first point came after a good draw by McCrossan and some solid work from Edmunds and McGaan left the opposition skip facing a draw against three, Â which she could only cut down to one. Â A failed takeout by the Ladies in the second left the University team lying shot for the majority of the end, Â and such was the situation once the hammer had come to rest.
Edinburgh Ladies chalked up their first point in the third but will have been disappointed not to take more. Â Some lovely guards helped bury a couple of their counters well, Â but a good tap-up from Edmunds split them and left them with just a single stone scoring. Â In the fourth, Â McCrossan followed up a good draw with arguably the hardest shot in the game- Â same again. Â Edmunds built on this, Â some solid takeout work- representative of his success with that type of shot all day- leaving McGaan in a position to draw for two. Â Her shot proved a shade heavy, Â but the University still took one point. Â A scrappy fifth end saw the Ladies taking another single, Â Edmunds’s tight draws both clipping opposition guards on the way down and breaking his team’s momentum.
Going into the sixth end, Â the first few stones left the sheet looking as though it were being used for guard practice rather than a match, Â the entire area in front of the house becoming very congested. Â A nice draw from McKay found its way through, Â though, Â and Edmunds was later able to freeze onto it. Â What followed was a moment of pure magic; Â McGaan, Â conscious that her team was lying shot and that any shot played through the guddle risked promoting an opposition rock, Â called for her own last stone simply to be burned. Â Changing her mind once in the hack, Â the skip instead aimed to draw through a narrow port to get her second shot. Â Played to perfection- and well swept by all four students- her stone came to rest perfectly for the two.
The euphoria- and hugs- elicited by that shot, and the excitement of leading by three, Â was not to last, though. Â A much more open seventh end concluded with a simple open draw for Edinburgh Ladies to claw back two. Â The University team were then unlucky; Â the bell sounding mere seconds after the first shot of the final end had been played meant that instead of a seven end victory, Â they faced a tight eighth, Â knowing that they could afford to lose no more than two. Â Dauntingly for the young team, Â with all other games finished, Â they were the last ones on the ice and the whole of Murrayfield focussed their attention on them.
Coping well with the pressure, Â the University team built up a good advantage, Â Edmunds drawing in to lie one with only skips’ stones to play. Â The Ladies regained the upper-hand, Â the slightest of contacts promoting a guard that would later prove crucial. Â McGaan, Â shaking noticeably under the pressure, Â came up short. Â A tense measure was required to determine what the students already knew- Edmunds’s shot was not closer than the promoted guard.
Handshakes all round (and a wee kiss from the Ladies’ skip) were offered along with a concession that the University should have won- music to the ears of the team whose team ethic, perseverance and sportsmanship could not be faulted. Â By drawing Edinburgh University took their first point from a game (where penalty shots had not been added) in over two seasons. Â With the team now sitting in the upper half of the league table, confidence will be sky-high for the next game.
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