On Saturday 9 March Bootham Ladies played their National Plate Semi-Final game at home to Cambridge in front of their biggest crowd of the season! Could the ladies reach their first ever cup final? Back into the squad came talented teenager Heather Smith and England bound Natasha Eustance, with Nikki Brown absent.

Bootham were represented by:

Ellie Whittaker (C), Jessica Barnes, Jessica Baker, Ava Worthy, Lauryn Zareba (GK), Ruby Shaw, Allegra Sellchop-Evans (GK), Kimberly Samson, Suzy Collins, Heather Smith, Natasha Eustance and Rowan Treagus.

1st Half

Both sides looked nervous and for the first 8 minutes Bootham controlled possession, but Cambridge defended stoutly. As their confidence grew Bootham saw chances for Whittaker, Smith and Baker come and go. Bootham finally got off the mark when the youngest player on the pitch Smith scored from close in. Arguably the goal of the game came next when a long range shot from Samson flew into the top of the net. Bootham were starting to control the game and Treagus scored from a tight angle. Baker got her first of the game when she tapped in from close range before Worthy scored her first of the game when Bakers shot came back off the goalkeeper.

Half Time: Bootham 5 – Cambridge 0

2nd Half

Bootham started the 2nd half on the front foot and early goals from Eustance and Baker showed they meant business. Barnes was having the best game of her life and twice came close to scoring. Treagus completed her hat trick with two close range goals, before the strangest goal of the day saw a quick break involving Barnes and Treagus. The keeper seemed to make the initial save, but the ball bounced off Treagus and rolled towards the empty net, where the Cambridge player could only poke it home. Eustance scored her second of the day, before Cambridge got a well-deserved consolation goal. The last word of the day went to talented teenager Worthy, she picked the ball just inside her own half and curled a shot high into the roof of the net, a great way to finish a dominate Bootham performance.

Full Time: Bootham 12 – Cambridge 1

Captain Ellie spoke to us after the game, with a huge smile on her face, she said, ‘This weekend was another special one for the club, with another big turnout from our supporters, and securing our first ever cup final. Like we did against Hertfordshire, we’d done our homework on Cambridge and had a game plan that we implemented really well. I think we looked dangerous on every attack, created loads of chances, our counter attacking play is getting stronger each week, and we look assured in possession. I’m really excited to round off the season with a cup final and we’ll do everything we can to be ready for a tough test against London Genesis. After they knocked us out of the cup last year, we’re really wanting to avenge that defeat and I’m sure it’ll be a great spectacle with two very talented teams giving everything to win.

A huge thank you to everyone who came to support us on Saturday. The game has evolved massively since I started, and we’re committed to leaving the sport in a better place than we found it. With all of the support we get, and with some of the players that are coming through, we’re well on the way to doing that.

We can’t wait for the cup final on 25th May, and hope to see as many people making the trip from Yorkshire to Derby as possible!’

A delighted vice-captain Jess spoke to us after the game, ‘I don’t think I’ll get over the weekend for a long time! Another performance that every single player can be proud of. The game plan worked perfectly again, controlling the tempo of the game from start to finish. Our passing game is continuously improving and some of the goals and chances we had were a perfect example of this.

I’d like to take a moment to thank every single one of our supporters, not only those who came on Saturday, but for everyone who turns up week in week out to support the ladies! We just hope we can go to Derby and bring that trophy back to Bootham for you all!

Winning that final game means the world to every single one of us, and we’re determined to make sure the result goes in our favour!’

Coach Chris spoke to us and said, ‘Wow what a way to win a semi-final! We started slowly and looked a bit nervous but once we scored then I thought we controlled the pace of the game very well. Huge credit to Cambridge, they made it very difficult and did cause us some problems, and we wish them all the very best for the rest of their season. I was delighted at the way we looked after the ball, we didn’t force the play and our finishing is starting to look like we want it to. Watch the video of the goals from Samson and Worthy’s second, they are both stunners!’

When asked about the squad he is putting together, he said, ‘The squad is looking very strong, when you consider any of the team today could have started today and having that ability to keep the momentum high with all the players means the opposition doesn’t get a break. I thought the changes of Samson, Treagus, Barnes and Shaw looked especially dangerous, and how Barnes didn’t score today I honestly don’t know! That was by far her best game in a Bootham shirt.’

When asked about the final, which is in Repton, Derby on 25 May, he smiled and said, ‘We have recent history with London Genesis, they beat us last year in the last 8 on penalties in an amazing game. They are a strong side, and we cannot take anything for granted. We have 7 new players from the side that faced them last time, so we must be confident we can put on a good performance. It’s a cup final, you need that bit of luck, but anything can happen. As we have done for the last 2 cup games, we will do our homework, prepare as best we can and do everything we can to bring the cup back to York.’

Players of The Match as picked by our match sponsors Nigel Skelton – Natasha Eustance and Jess Barnes. Both players looked very dangerous in possession and contributed to several of the goals today. Special mention to Lucy Hudson who is recovering from a nasty knee injury but came along today and helped raise much needed funds for the team.

Huge thank you to our amazing mascot, 8-year-old Iris, nearly 9! Another of our fab academy players who never stopped smiling throughout the day and can’t wait to wear the green of Bootham Ladies in the future!

A few pictures from a memorable day:

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