by Tom Young
THE University of South Wales Women’s 1st were left ruing a slow start to the season as they finished the campaign eight points adrift of runaway champions Exeter.
The women’s side, led by manager Kaseem Taylor for the first time, were plagued by a number of injuries in the opening weeks of the season, which saw them lose all three of their fixtures.
A 7-0 thrashing of the University of the West of England followed by a 5-0 victory at the University of Southampton saw the side register their first points of the season and hit form ahead of the start of their cup campaign.
They continued their fine form with a 6-0 victory against the University of the West of England, booking their place in the next round of the BUCS women’s trophy. They went on to pick up four points from their next two matches, a thrilling 5-5 draw away at Gloucestershire was followed by a comfortable 4-0 victory at the USW Sport Park against Bournemouth.
Taylor had pinpointed a strong cup run as a key part of his side’s season, however they were eliminated in the last 16, defeated 4-1 by a strong Worcester side on the new 3G pitch in Treforest.
With the University of Exeter already crowned champions, USW women wanted to finish the season strongly and they did so, winning all three of their remaining fixtures, completing a season treble against the UWE with a 2-0 victory in Bristol followed by a 5-0 drubbing of the University of Southampton.
The women saved their best performance of the season until last, showing great character to twice come back from two goals behind to defeat champions Exeter 4-3 and ensure that they finished the season on a high.
Captain Lucy Stacey, playing in her final season for the side, pinpointed a lack of a preseason as key to their slow start, however she was full of praise for her team and was proud of how they performed in their first season in the Western A division.
“The team is such a talented, supportive and motivated bunch of girls. We started off the season with a couple of loses and not as well as we had hope. I think this was due to not knowing how each other play and the fact that we had had no preseason to prepare.
“However, after the first couple of games we clicked as a team and pulled together. Our last game of the season was one of our best games. We were down at half time and then we managed to get the win with some last-minute goals due to the determination and passion from each and every team member. This gave us a 4-3 victory against top of the table.
“We finished the season second which is amazing considering we only just got promoted into this division.”
Manager Kaseem Taylor was proud of his side’s attacking and defensive qualities across the course of the season and is targeting promotion to the BUCS Premier Division ahead of next season.
“It was a slow and tough start to the season whilst we were trying to figure out our style of play and philosophy, but once we nailed down how to play along with some players coming back from injury, we had a really good crack at the league, scoring lots of goals and keeping clean sheets.
“For my assistant and myself, we feel we’re ready and experienced enough now to know what to expect for next season, so we’re really going to push for promotion into the BUCS Premier. The current crop of girls that will be there next season are more than capable of helping the team challenge for it.”