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York teams ready for kickoff

Dan Holland, Beth Jakubowski, and Tom Fennelly assess some of York's top University sides ahead of the coming BUCS season

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Image: Agatha Torrance
Image: Agatha Torrance



Men's Football
UYAFC's first team were incredibly unlucky to miss out on promotion last year, undone by some freak weather and the quirks of the BUCS league table system. As with all clubs, they've lost a few players over the summer - most notably Matt Mawdesley, Tom Day, and Tom Clarke. There is still a good core of quality players here though, and there are sure to be a few freshers coming in to supplement the squad. The key for new captain James Davies' side will be to hit the ground running this season - they didn't hit top form quickly enough last year and paid the price come the end of the season. Promotion is unquestionably the aim this time around, and avenging last year's heartbreak is certainly within their grasp.

Rowing
The Boat Club look in great shape for the coming season with new club President, Patrick Somerville-Large. The novice squads were in great shape last season, with the men's eights winning at the York Summer Regatta and losing their novice status. Even with some of the senior rowers graduating including ex-President Ed Scobie, they certainly look like they're ready for the coming season. Last season was a vintage one for the women's fours, as they reached the semi-finals of their Henley event and won at the White Rose Regatta. With a grant from Sport England already secured they will be looking to build on their record number of sign ups at last year's freshers fair to help bolster their squads for the coming year.

Volleyball
The women's firsts side narrowly missed out on promotion last season as they finished as the runners-up in Division 2B for the second year running - here's hoping that they finally crack into Division 1 this season. The ladies team were also nominated as the Roses Team of the Tournament as they provided one of the spectacles of the summer in their emphatic win over Lancaster. It will certainly be exciting to see if this squad can match and hopefully better their successes from last season. As for the men's side, the firsts team will miss the talismanic powerhouse that is Chris Stent; the former club president was a frequent provider of winning points with from his strong right arm. Nevertheless, the company of current club president Rory Kelly and team captain Kai Chan, along with the alarmingly tall Mark Woodward, means that the team will be tactically sound this season.

Netball
It will be a season full of change for York's netballers. They had a solid season last year, with all three teams impressing at Varsity and Roses, as well as a good performance in BUCS. But the firsts team have lost their influential captain Nina Pullman as well as star players Amy Moye and Charlotte Ferris as all were third years and have now graduated. But with a strong second team, they will be hoping to pull up players from their lower teams as well as rely on a strong intake of freshers to bolster their squad. New President Lucy Daymond will be hoping that the netball team can build on last year's promising season and last year's freshers can step up to fill the void created by the departure of Pullman, Ferris and Moye.



Image: Lily Grant
Image: Lily Grant


Hockey
Both the men's and women's firsts teams lost their captains to graduation - George Richards and Sally Dolton respectively were both central defenders so each team's defence are set for a shake-up. However, Phil Blackburn and Izzi Hutchinson have stepped in and look set to build on the Roses successes from last season, although both teams will be hoping for stronger finishers in their BUCS leagues this season. The men's side have lost their midfield rock Leo Watton, as well as Dougie MacAteer and Laurie Torrington (who scored the vital winner in the indoors hockey at Roses). More critically, the women's side have lost their reliable goalkeeper Laura Porter but, thankfully for them, the ambitious fresher Liz Furber has stepped up to the plate even before fresher's week, keeping a clean sheet in midweek.

Swimming and Water Polo
A club that has shown massive improvement in the past few years and can only get better. The new pool facilities at the York Sport Village made a huge difference to UYSWC last year, and will have hopefully gone some way to attracting another set of talented athletes for 2013/14. On the swimming side of things, York very much went out with a bang last year, clinching an epic victory over Lancaster at Roses. That was the culmination of a year that saw a succession of club records and personal bests - maintaining and even surpassing that standard will be the order of business this season. Water polo is a Nouse favourite - frenetic action and a chance for reporters to get out of the cold. The men's side were in spectacular form throughout last year and will be looking to replicate that form against higher-calibre opposition. York's women came on leaps and bounds last season, to the point at which captain Sophie Gorman was nearing a state of shock after their historic Roses win. There is nothing to suggest that they can't continue to go from strength to strength.

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