The Ulster Elks survived a couple of scares before booking their place in the semi finals of the Irish Senior Cup with a 4-2 win over Lisnagarvey at Jordanstown on Saturday.
Garvey proved to be plucky opponents and twice came from behind to level matters at 2-2 at half time.
But the students were the better side after the break and ran out comfortable winners.
However Garvey can hold their heads high after what was a terrific first half display when they matched their more illustrious opponents.
Although the picture was to change later in the day the Elks went into the game as Premier League leaders.
The Hillsborough side, in contrast, have been struggling in the domestic campaign and wins have been few and far between.
As you would expect from a cup tie, there was an added edge to the game which swung from end to end in the opening 35 minutes at least.
But Garvey were second best after the restart and created very few chances as the Elks piled forward at every opportunity.
“I thought we did well in the first half but we ran out of steam in the second but at least we gave them a decent game,” said Garvey coach Mark Murray.
“I thought our goalkeeper (Caroline Reid) did very well and she had to make quite a few saves and clearances.”
Murray’s opposite number Ricky Lee was naturally happy that his side is in the hat for today’s semi final draw.
“I thought we didn’t control the game very well in the first half and we had difficulty dealing with the long balls they played.” he said.
“But we played much better in the second half and I can’t remember them having too many entries into our circle.”
There were less than two minutes on the clock when the Elks went in front as Laura McAlpine deflected home a Shirley McCay free hit.
McAlpine scored with a first time shot after McCay, just back from an international training camp in Spain, delivered the ball cleverly into her team mate’s path.
But Garvey fought back to equalize when Sarah Colgan scored with a well taken goal on her back hand after skilfully spinning into a shooting position
The Elks made it 2-1 when Louise Wright slammed the ball home after some slack defending a minute later as she slotted the ball home from seven yards out when unmarked.
Once again Garvey recovered to draw level as Jenna McQueen banged home a penalty corner in the 12th minute - the first set piece of the game.
As the game wore on the Elks forced a couple of penalty corners of their own and Reid was kept busy in the Garvey goal.
The Elks improved after the restart and three minutes in, Reid did well to save from a McAlpine snap shot from the edge of the circle.
Jessica McMaster added number three in the 44th minute when she converted a penalty corner switch from Stephanie Jameson after the initial move had seemed to have broken down.
Garvey were reduced to 10 players when Laura Murray ‘took one for the team’ as she was shown a yellow card for breaking down play with a tackle on McCay.
That signalled the end of any chance of a Garvey revival and Reid had to make a couple of decent stops as the Elks forced several penalty corners.
With eight minutes left Lyndsay Neish wrapped it up when she scored from an Aine Curran pass as the former UCC player unselfishly laid the ball off with a reverse stick delivery.