University of Exeter ready for new season
University of Exeter return to national league hockey action at home to Guildford on Saturday.
The Greens – last season's Men's Conference West runners-up – face Guildford at the University Sports Park at 2pm, two hours after Isca University mark the start of the new Investec Women's League season at home to Oxford Hawks.
Isca University finished as runners-up to perennial Women's Conference West champions Buckingham last term while Saturday's visitors Oxford finished fourth in the East conference.
It will be intriguing to see how Hawks fare following their East to West summer switch while Isca showed plenty of promise despite a 3-1 pre-season defeat at Clifton Ladies last week.
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Alice Woods scored for Isca, level with Clifton until the last ten minutes before the Bristol-based Women's Premier Division outfit surged ahead. Isca are boosted by the return of Henrietta Murray and the new arrival of Vicki Gill.
Exe Ladies have only spent a season away from Conference West and lost just once on their way to regaining their national league status by winning the 2012-13 West Clubs Women's Hockey League title by four points.
Exe face familiar foe on the opening day, travelling to Gloucester City, promoted as WCWHL champions in 2011 and quickly establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the national league.
Last season, Gloucester finished third, two points behind Isca University.
Top-scoring University of Exeter finished last term a point behind Men's Conference West champions Cardiff & UWIC after being frustrated by the Welsh club in a goalless draw on the final day of the regular league season.
Nevertheless Exeter were buoyed by a huge turn-out to watch the top of the table clash following a thrilling title chase in which the new-look Greens lost just twice.
Exeter face a testing start. Title rivals Guildford finished third last season and in week two the Greens travel to Wales to play the newly renamed Cardiff & Met.
Isca celebrated their centenary season by winning the men's regional Davis Wood Hockey League. Their success marked the end of a 13-year wait for a return to the men's national league.
On Saturday, Tremlett's team visit University of Birmingham, who finished fifth last season.
Isca will be encouraged by a 3-2 win over Saturday's hosts and goals for Ollie Clarke, Mark Forshaw and Tremlett during their pre-season build-up.