Sunday, June 26, 2022

This has been ‘toughest’ campaign in Surbiton shirt, says Defroand

Emily Defroand says this Vitality Women’s Premier Division season has been the toughest to negotiate since she joined the club as Surbiton edge closer to an eighth successive England Hockey top flight title.

Surbiton women need one point with two games remaining in the season for the perennial champions to add another domestic accolade to the Sugden Road trophy cabinet. They can seal the title with a positive result away at East Grinstead on Saturday afternoon.

The Premier Division teams have had to adapt to a new league format this season which has meant a season split and teams in the dark as to how the restructure would effect performance.

“I think this season has definitely been the toughest I have experienced in a Surbiton shirt,” said Defroand, who now works in communications with West Ham United.

“With the introduction of the new league structure, it has meant that every game matters. As Brett Garrard says, ‘every game is a Cup Final’ and that has bought a new pressure to strive for consistency each week. As a team, we are not thinking about an eighth league title – we are thinking about continuing to train well, take each game as it comes and let the process deal with the outcome.”

Their lead at the top follows a superb run of form – 20 goals in their last five games – despite Hampstead & Westminster scuppering hopes of an unbeaten season last weekend.

“This season has been a real collective team effort,” said Defroand. “We have been hard to beat in defence, controlled in possession and clinical in front of goal. Even when we are not playing our best, we have won games that in previous years we may not have done so which is really pleasing.

“There have been so many occasions this season where I have found myself standing in the middle of the pitch and just thinking, “Wow!” as the individual talent in our team is beyond impressive. But the way we play as a team is what I am most proud of and it has been a total pleasure to be a part of it.”

Surbiton will return to the EHL at Easter PIC: Emily Defroand/Instagram

The competition since the league restart has also added a ‘best against the best’ structure following the division split. It means that Surbiton are looking in fine fettle heading into the upcoming Euro Hockey League next month.

She added: “It’s an exciting time for the club and we are all really looking forward to the EHL. Over the next few weeks, we have huge games against teams who, like us, still have a lot to play for at the top end of the table.

“I think these games will be the perfect preparation before heading out to Amsterdam as we will have to be at our best to come away with any points from these games, and that will be no different to our games over Easter.”

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