Women's Futsal Cuppers last eight: What are their chances?
The women's Futsal Cuppers competition is in full flow and eight teams have made it to the quarter final stage. Read on to find out more about their chances and their journeys so far as they try to win the competition tomorrow, and for a full breakdown of results up to this point, as well as tomorrow's timings, see this spreadsheet. Without further ado, these are the quarter-finalists.
Many people’s early favourites to win the tournament have cruised through the group stage in style; marshalled in defence by OUAFC President Charlotte Rougier and powered by the goals of Ashton Sanders, they will pose a tough test for any team who comes up against them. “Hertble” won three of their group matches, including a 5-0 thrashing of an otherwise very tidy looking Balliol side, but their match against Saints showed that they are not entirely unstoppable. Their 1-1 draw against the fellow joint-college powerhouse meant that they only topped their group on goal difference, which will leave their rivals for Cuppers glory plotting their downfall. Two questions remain before the latter-stages commence on Friday: how many more goals can Sanders add to her tally of five, and how many Blues might Keble/Hertford draft into the team in pursuit of the coveted trophy?
One of the most entertaining sides in the tournament so far, the deceptively-named Saints “2” will rightly believe they can go all the way. Winning three of their group games courtesy of Furies captain Becca North’s five goals (including one directly from kick-off, which cements her place in Futsal Cuppers history as the first player of either gender to manage the feat), as well as a particularly good strike from captain Inès Gétaz against Balliol, Saints have been good value for the neutrals. Claudia Hill’s uncompromising (brutal?) approach to goalkeeping has given her team a much needed solidity in defence, which makes the Saints a tough proposition for any team that crosses their path in the latter stages of the competition. An emerging force in women’s college football, Saints are determined to add to their Hassan’s Cup win earlier in the season, and few would bet against them on current form.
The juggernaut that is Foxes continued to terrorise all before them in the group stage, starting with a synchronised warm up and ending with a 5-0 dismantling of Worcester. A further 7-0 win against Saints meant that the Foxes boast the competition’s sharpest attack so far, with Mia Hassoun leading the way on five goals and in with a strong chance of the tournament’s golden boot. A defence organised by the excellent Kiah Rutz, has conceded zero goals so far, with much of that owed to the saves of Sinae Kim in goal. The Foxes’ one blip was a 0-0 draw with St Philda’s which left them looking rather relieved after fending off waves of Philda’s attacks. Ultimately, however, they stood firm, and will be feeling confident of progressing deep into the competition and going all the way (especially now that Wadham are out).
The St Peter’s/St Hilda’s joint team has been one of the revelations of the tournament so far, although with the pedigree of some of their players few can be surprised that they have made it to the quarter-finals. Blues captain Lucy Harper gives this team a steely edge, not least when contesting sloppily taken kick-ins by opposition players, while ex-Furies captain Lowri Fernyhough’s three goals make her the team’s top scorer. Fernyhough could easily have had three more but for her spurned chances in the match against Worcester, the most memorable of which saw her trip over her standing foot while clear on goal and fall over, to the amusement of teammates and opponents alike. Phildas’ secret weapon are their netball girls, equally adept in goal and outfield, who make this team the dark horse of the tournament and one to watch.
Exeter have progressed from the group stage unbeaten, through a series of hard-fought results including wins against St Hugh’s and Lincoln. Captain Lina Cox’s leadership holds this team together, and they have proven a difficult side to break down, conceding only one goal in the tournament so far. With the flair and trickery of the Blues’ Lina Velcheva, the Turl Street side pack a punch going forward as well and will be a difficult proposition for any team meeting them in the latter stages. Exeter will rightly be pleased with their progress so far, as the only 4th Division side to get to this stage, but will inevitably be dreaming of going all the way. First they must navigate the formidable-looking Univ, but if they can get past them then glory surely beckons.
Hassan’s Cup finalists Jesus boast the dubious accolade of the least points needed to get to the quarter-finals. At times seeming utterly unplayable, such as in their 4-1 win against St Hugh’s, or their 6-0 dismantling of Lincoln, Jesus seemed to lack some spark in their other two matches, coming away with a draw and a loss against Exeter and Christ Church respectively. When it clicks, it really clicks, however, and a combination of the competition’s deadliest striker, six-goal Katherine Greatwood, along with the flair of Ana Barros in midfield has helped them get this far. The Welsh duo of Nia Thomas and Gwenno Jones have also kept the girls in green solid at the back; Thomas’ calmness in possession and range of passing from defence have posed a constant threat, while Jones’ absolute screamer of a goal against Exeter showed that Jesus mean business in this tournament.
The standout team of the tournament so far, the Rhodes Scholars are the only team to have won all their group games, and they have done so in style. 13 goals scored and none conceded are a testament to a team with no obvious weaknesses, while every member of the team has scored at least once, so Jesus will have their work cut out to prevent them scoring in the quarter finals. The team is built around Jamaican international, Varsity player of the match and self-proclaimed “coach extraordinaire” Sherona Forrester, whose exuberant encouragement of her teammates (“FIRE!”) and humorous heckling of opponents makes the team great fun to watch. Captain Sarah Kovan is a constant threat and the team’s top scorer on four goals so far, while Hannah “Big Shoes” Schneider has chipped in with a couple of goals and a hatful of assists playing in boots five sizes too big for her. Never a dull moment when the Rhodes Scholars are on the pitch, they will rightly believe they can win the competition.
After almost pulling out due to a lack of numbers and eventually arriving late for their first match, many would have expected Univ to fold against illustrious opponents such as First Division St Catz and newly promoted Osler House. The Div 3 side, led by the excellent Georgia Allen, had other plans, however, dispatching both teams, as well as Teddy Hall to reach the quarter-final stage, while playing some tidy futsal along the way. While Helen Pugh provides the goal threat, Univ are a real team unit, working hard off the ball, showing impressive physicality, and looking very well organised in defence. Their quarter-final against Exeter will be one of the toughest to call, and the neutrals can look forward to a real spectacle when Univ take to the court.