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New signings have given Slough HC captain Kat a renewed sense of optimism

Dave Wright

Slough Women have made a number of signings ahead of their England Hockey Division One South campaign which is scheduled to get underway this Saturday with a home game against Sevenoaks (12.15pm pushback).

“We have more strength in depth than we had last year, so we are hoping for a good season,” said team captain Kat McGonigle.

But they will start the season without two experienced players as keeper Asha Tranquille-Day is expecting a baby - the club have so many mums that they organised a creche for home games last season - and Dilly Newton tore her calf muscle during pre-season training.

The new signings include former Northern Ireland international Emer Acton from Chelmsford, although she is no stranger to the club having previously played for them several years ago when she was Emer Harte.

She is now 37, but she won’t feel out of place in the Pink ‘n’ Blacks dressing room for, as McGonigle, said with a smile: “We must be the oldest team in our league.”

Among the younger fresh faces are Shona McNab from Oxford University, Olivia Saligoi from Reading, Nottingham Trent University goalkeeper Daisy Hacking, whose family home is in Marlow, and Lara Bampfield from the University of Birmingham.

Teenager Val Savarna, who was the club’s reserve keeper in the Super6s Championship last winter, has signed senior forms, while Kenya international Betsy Ommala, who missed the second half of last season, is also back in the fold.

Sara Vollmerhausen has left the area to return to Canada, while Sophie Hollerbach is currently in Germany and may struggle to return in the current climate.

Former GB Olympian Kali Takhir will continue to coach Slough whilst also carrying out similar duties with the Wycombe men’s team.

Like every other club, Slough’s pre-season programme has been disrupted due to COVID-19 restrictions, but McGonigle says: “Hopefully we will get off to a good start.”

Her side finished third in the table last season and she is hoping to go one or two placings better this time around.

The school teacher added: “Obviously a lot is down to players staying fit and healthy.

“But there is more depth to our squad than last season and hopefully, that will put us in good stead.”

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