The majority of hockey players would be happy to lift one or two titles over the course of a career in the sport but Zara Malseed has already amassed 14 winner’s medals at the age of just 21.
She has come a long way since she held the Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup aloft as captain of the Sullivan Upper team that defeated Banbridge Academy 2-1 to claim the famous trophy for the first time back in 2015.
This weekend she will be one of several Ulster players in European action when she lines out for Edinburgh University in the Club Trophy tournament which is being hosted by English Premiership outfit Holcombe in Rochester. Zara has enjoyed a remarkable run of success since moving to Scotland to study chemical engineering, having won multiple silverware there every year since leaving Northern Ireland.
The trophy trail started even before she moved to Scotland when she was a member of the Ards squad who were crowned Ulster Premier League champions in 2015, shortly after leading Sullivan to their Schools’ Cup triumph, having earlier won the Ulster Shield with her home club.
Since then she has got her hands on a staggering 12 more trophies with the Edinburgh students and this weekend will make her fourth appearance at a European tournament. In her first year with the club, she lifted a national league title, the Scottish Cup and a European Challenge 1 winner’s medal.
The following season, she captured a domestic treble, adding a play-off title to the list, with another European Challenge gold and then another quadruple success at home and on the continent came her way in 2017/18.
In the current season, Zara helped Edinburgh win the league and although they missed out on the play-offs at the weekend, there is still the Scottish Cup semi-finals and, hopefully, the final to come. She regards the 2017/18 four-timer as her most satisfying achievement due to the fact she had the honour of was captaining of the Edinburgh side that swept the boards and hosted the Euro showpiece.
Zara said: “I am loving it over here, Edinburgh have a great performance programme and I also get the opportunity to play in the British Unis Championship.”
“That competition has teams from the English Premiership in it like Loughborough and we came second to them this season.”
This weekend, Zara and her team mates will be up against UCD, hosts Holcombe and Russian champions Moscomsport in Europe’s second-tier. UCD also have Ulster representation in their line-up in the shape of Irish internationals Bethany Barr, formerly of Lurgan, and ex-Armagh star Leah McGuire.
As things stand, Pegasus will be competing in the same division as UCD next season unless the Belfast club can go on and win the Irish Champions Trophy next month, depending on how the two Irish representatives fare over the weekend. Loreto, who won the play-offs last year, will be representing Ireland in the EuroHockey Club Cup in Amsterdam at the weekend when they start their campaign against Dutch side Den Bosch on Friday before a series of classification matches.
Ireland captain Katie Mullan, who lined out for Ballymoney this season during the indoor hockey break on the continent, will be playing for German champions Club an der Alster in the same event.
Meanwhile, Jessica McMaster scored her second hat-trick in three games to help Queen’s University secure second place in the Ulster Premier League with a 3-1 win over Banbridge on Monday night at the Dub. However, the students were made to work hard for their victory, having trailed 1-0 at half-time after Orla Magee – sister of Ireland star Eugene – had put the visitors ahead.
But McMaster scored a quick fire treble in the space of 10 minutes shortly after the break, one from open play and two from penalty corners, to seal an important win.
Queen’s are now guaranteed a place in next year’s EY IHL 2 tournament, having reached this season’s play-offs in which they will meet Monkstown in the semi-finals in Dublin on Saturday week when a victory would earn them a chance of securing promotion to the Irish top flight next season.
Coach Simon Bell said: “We can relax a little when we play our final Ulster league game against Mossley next week and the girls are really looking forward to the Monkstown match.”
Ballymoney were 3-2 winners over Mossley on Wednesday night, Katherine Minihan, Rachel Miniahan and Katherine Bryans with the goals and Rebecca McCullough hitting both in reply
EuroHockey Club Cup (Amsterdam): Den Bosch v Loreto (3.45pm)
EuroHockey Club Trophy: Holcombe v UCD (5.45pm)
EuroHockey Club Cup Play-offs
EuroHockey Club Trophy: UCD v Edinburgh University (2.30pm)
EuroHockey Club Cup Play-offs
EuroHockey Club Trophy: UCD v Moscomsport (2.30pm)