Swindon girls are the Topcats

First published in Sport Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

SWINDON ladies’ ice hockey side showed that they really are the Topcats after they were crowned Division One champions at the Trophy weekend in Sheffield.

The Link Centre girls completed their Division One South league campaign winning all 16 matches before defeating North runners-up Coventry Phoenix 1-0 in the semi-final thanks to a strike from Rebecca Da Cova.

Then, in a thrilling final against fellow divisional winners Whitley Bay, Topcats had to come from 2-0 down to secure a 4-3 over-time success.

Player-coach Becci Osman led the fightback for Cats with a brace with Sarah-Jane Fletcher adding another.

The North champions then levelled the scores in the third period to force the match into over-time with Anne Chilcott coming out of the penalty box to grab the winner.

“After being in ice hockey for 21 years this has been my most enjoyable season,” Osman said. “The girls have been amazing.

“It was a fantastic weekend to top off a superb season.”

Having joined the Link Centre side in 2006 , Osman has seen the club, which was formed in the early 1990s, win the title twice before.

Osman says that they are now reaping the benefits of having an under 16s girls team.

“A few years ago the under 16s were set-up and now they are starting to progress into the senior side,” Osman added.

“It is great that these young girls are coming through.

“The spirit in the team has been fantastic all year, everyone gets on.

“That is not always that easy in team sports as sometimes you can have a bit of bickering.”

Despite having lifted the Division One title, Osman says that the game is suffering due to the regulations imposed on them.

“We used to have a second team here at Swindon,” Osman said. “We weren’t struggling for players, but qualified coaches.

“We need to have a level two coach, which I am, on the sidelines.

“So I either need to stop playing or have somebody to come in and help out.

“Thankfully my brother, Richard Hargreaves, is a level two coach so he comes and helps me out and I do the same for him.

“But the game is suffering because of this rule.”

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