A superbly conceived and executed second goal scored by new signing Tori Hastings sealed Queen’s a 2-0 win over Lisnagarvey at Comber Road on Saturday.
Hastings joined the students from Ballymoney along with fellow newcomer Emma Kernohan and both girls shone in a contest full of endeavour.
It was another new face, Megan McKenna who paved the victory path with the opener in the first half at a packed Hillsborough venue.
Although they won’t be playing Ulster opposition this season after opting to take part in the new expanded Irish Hockey League, Ards, Pegasus and the Ulster Elks were playing their own pre-season tournament.
Ards beat Pegasus 2-1 on Saturday to clinch the Marie Curie Cup and a 4-1 for the Belfast side over the Elks yesterday wasn’t enough to change the outcome.
That was after Ards picked up an extra point from a 3-3 draw with the Jordanstown team in Friday night’s opener.
In the earlier game there was more at stake and Queen’s win sees them sitting pretty alongside Harlequins and Lurgan and Dungannon at the top of the table albeit after only one match. Coach Simon Bell was delighted at the outcome and particularly the second half performance after a sticky spell in the opening 35 minutes.
Garvey made a rich contribution to the game and, with better finishing, the hosts could have been at least one goal to the good at the break.
But credit must go to students’ rookie goalkeeper, Judith Scott, whose bravery and agility prevented Garvey from opening their account.
In the second half, whatever coach Bell said to his charges did the trick because they were the better side after the restart.
“We didn’t play particularly well in the first half and the standard of hockey wasn’t great but we did much better in the second half.” said Bell.
“Our aim is finish in the top three this season and get into the IHL II end-of-season tournament.”
Bell’s opposite number David Agnew was far from unhappy at his team’s display which augurs well for the rest of the campaign.
Agnew took over the reins from Mark Murray in the summer to allow the latter to concentrate on his role as club chairman.
He has introduced several younger players into the squad and now has an under 21 programme in place as he builds for the future.
“We are trying to play less of a long handle type of game and pass the ball more rather than rely on hitting the forwards with long balls.” said Agnew.
“Half the squad today was under 21 and it’s a learning curve for them.
“We competed well in the first half and could maybe have scored at least once but Queen’s deserved their win on the basis of their second half display.”
Garvey had the ball in the net as early as the first minute after a terrific run from Stephanie McCullough but the umpire had spotted an infringement.
Hastings was denied by Garvey keeper Caroline Reid, who made a string of fine stops.
Scott was also a busy girl denying Jenna McQueen on several occasions at set-pieces.
Queen’s broke the deadlock in first half stoppage time from a twice-taken penalty corner as McKenna stabbed home a rebound from Anna Hutchinson’s initial shot which had been scrambled clear.
Seven minutes after the interval, Queen’s won a free which the impressice Becky Anderson took quickly, finding Jo Orr.
She in turn passed to Hastings, who beat a defender before calmly picking her spot for a brilliant clincher.
Garvey’s challenge wilted after that and Queen’s went home with full points.