On 26th May 2019, a team from York Floorball travelled south to Oxford University for an inter-university tournament. University clubs from around the nation would compete against each other in a Championship-style tournament over the course of the afternoon. Despite being right in the middle of York’s exam period, a sizeable squad consisting of five debutants were in high hopes as they boarded the bus at ten o’clock in the morning. The Vikings that formed the squad are as follows: Captain, Conor O’Hearn; President, Annabel Jennings; Francis Overton-Eccles; Alan Pedrassoli-Chitayat; David Morrey; George Matthews, Eetu Jyvälä, Owen Dearman; Theo Munro; and the debutants: Charlotte Edwards; Georgina Williams, Pavel Langer; Jakub Bydžovský; and Adéla Hantschová.
The York Vikings were set to play two matches in a Round Robin stage, before a semi-final and final if they progressed in first or second, or a third-place play-off if they did not. The matches would consist of two halves of ten minutes, with five a side including goalkeepers. Pool A contained: Warwick Floorball Club; University of Bath Floorball Club; and the hosts, Oxford University Floorball Club. Pool B contained: York Floorball, UCL Floorball; and Nottingham Floorball. York Vikings travelled to the tournament off the back of a win against Nottingham earlier in the year, overturning a series of eight losses in a row against tough opposition.
York’s first match of the afternoon was against Nottingham Floorball, beginning at half past three. The line that began York’s campaign consisted of: Bydžovský playing in centre with Jyvälä and Hantschová on the wings. Williams and O’Hearn made up the defence with Langer in goal. The match started with both teams trying to grow into the game, however, this did not last long as York’s Bydžovský was given two minutes in the sin-bin for a collision with a Nottingham forward. This reduced York to four outfield players and Nottingham soon capitalised, shooting past Langer to open the scoring. After the goal, Bydžovský was permitted back into play and York set about finding an equaliser. They didn’t have to wait long as Bydžovský fired the ball past the Nottingham keeper after a pass from Jyvälä to bring the score to 1-1. Jyvälä and the other Vikings continued making chances for the York side before he assisted Hantschová to put York into the lead. After the break, O’Hearn sent a ball towards Pedrassoli-Chitayat to bring the score to 3-1 in York’s favour, as Langer performed heroics at the other end to keep York’s lead intact. Straight from face-off of York’s third goal, Jyvälä once again impacted the game by taking the ball and firing into the back of Nottingham’s net, making the final score 4-1 to the Vikings.
York’s second match came around half an hour later, against UCL. Jyvälä and Bydžovský once again combined early on to gift a goal for Bydžovský, throwing York into contention for the easier semi-final. After some pressure from the UCL forwards, a shot made it past the York defence and Langer to end the first half equal at 1-1. After the break, both teams played end-to-end floorball to try and grab a winning goal. Both defences stood up to the test; with Langer and the York defence making game saving blocks. Jennings drew the UCL defence towards a wing half way into the second half before crossing the ball into the path of the incoming Dearman who swept it under the goalkeeper for his first goal in a York Vikings shirt. This turned out to be the winning goal that catapulted York into the semi-finals unbeaten, finishing the game 2-1.
Due to results from Pool A, York’s semi-final was set to be against Bath, while Warwick would play Nottingham in the other semi-final. York once again opened the scoring early on when the ball rebounded off Bydžovský and Jyvälä tucked it away. Bath came close to equalising on occasion only to be denied by either Langer or a defender heroically putting themselves between the striker and goal. The clean sheet was not to be as Bath equalised to make the score 1-1 and hinder York’s progress to the final. O’Hearn and Jyvälä combined deep into the second half, with the Captain laying the perfect ball through for the forward to smash into the net, sending York through to play Warwick in the final.
The final would be the last match of the afternoon, after the fifth and third place play-offs had taken place. York had yet to beat Warwick in a floorball match, despite the teams having met a number of times across the years. Warwick had also won their pool and so the York team knew that the match would be a tough test of strategy and determination. The final started well with Bydžovský scoring a solo goal to bring York 1-0 up against Warwick. This lead did not last too long with Warwick scoring two goals in succession to turn the tables, leaving York the team behind. Jyvälä took this challenge upon himself and launched away from the face-off, scoring from distance to equalise once again. The York team was in uproar and pushed forward for a win with Dearman hitting the face-mask of the Warwick goalie twice and the other forwards pummelling the defence with shots. A win in normal time was not to be, and the game finished 2-2, bringing a penalty shootout into the mix.
The shootout would be best of three, and the York team selected Jyvälä, Bydžovský and Overton-Eccles to take the penalties. Warwick stepped up first and Langer threw himself towards the ball, smothering it and stopping the goal. Jyvälä for York then stepped up to take the shot but unfortunately slipped and saw the goalkeeper launch it away. Langer prepared himself in the York goal and swung himself out to block an incoming Warwick shot. Bydžovský then stepped up with the tie still 0-0. This time, the attempt was successful and Bydžovský rocketed a shot into the net. It came down to the last round. If Warwick scored then it would be down to Overton-Eccles. If Langer saved, then York would win the Inter-Universities tournament. Langer set himself in the goal. Warwick dribbled forward hoping to knock the ball past the York keeper. There was delight from York as Langer stood brave and saved the shot, before leaping up in joy to be smothered by the Vikings charging on to the pitch in celebration. York had won! This is the first trophy in their history, and they had traversed the competition unbeaten to get it. The celebrations continued all the way back North, with a rendition of Queen’s We are the Champions sung by every member. Each team had an MVP, picked courtesy of iamfloorball.co.uk, and Pavel Langer, York’s debutant goalkeeper deservedly picked up the award. As is customary after York matches, the team also voted on their MVP of the tournament, with Eetu Jyvälä and Pavel Langer drawing as joint MVP.