East Women's Hockey League division one north

THREE players bagged hat-tricks as free-scoring Colchester got their season off to an emphatic start against UEA Norwich.

The visitors put their newly-promoted opponents to the sword on the opening day, to chalk up a big victory.

Helen Scott and Sophie Bendon bagged five goals apiece and new player-coach Libby Knifton also bagged a hat-trick, while captain Jemma Rix and Ellie Benfield were also on target in the rout.

Coach Libby Knifton said: "It was an entertaining match with lots of attacking play and many positives.

"It was good to see what we practised in training being put on the pitch in a match.

"Colchester played some outstanding hockey and it was great to see so much support.

"It's great to see the youngsters Frankie Harley and Pippa Garbutt, Ellie Benfield and Sophie Bendon play really well and with confidence.

"They're developing into fantastic confident skilful players and ones to watch out for in the future."

Colchester started quickly and went inside three minutes through Knifton.

The visitors dominated the ball with fantastic link-up play and the goals kept coming thick and fast.

Scott completed her hat-trick before half-time and Bendon was also on target as was Knifton again, as Colchester went in at the break 11-0 ahead.

UEA were more organised in the second half but the Colchester defence of Frankie Harley, Katie Irwin, Liz Pope and Ellie Benfield were solid and strong, keeping the hosts at bay with some fantastic low tackles.

New Colchester keeper Lucy Stuchfield had little to do all game but was nevertheless commanding from the back.

The visitors added four further goals in the second half through Benfield, Bendon, Scott and Rix, to complete their big win.

Colchester ladies captain Jemma Rix said: "I am extremely proud of the team performance and I think this team has the recipe for success.

"We had a really issue with scoring goals last season and this will give us a big boost."

Colchester host St Ives on Saturday, 2pm push-back.