Hampstead & Westminster could not have wished for a better start to life in the Investec Women’s Hockey League after beating Beeston 4-1 on the opening day of the season.
After performing brilliantly to earn promotion last season, Kate Richardson-Walsh’s side proved they have every chance of success in the top flight, laying down a marker early when new signing Grace Balsdon opened the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty corner.
Sarah Robertson quickly put the promoted side 2-0 up before Rosy Stephens cut the deficit just before the half-time whistle, but Robertson doubled her tally in the 43rd minute and Joyce Esser added another to send the newly-promoted London-based side straight to the top of the table.
Meanwhile Loughborough Students, the other newly-promoted team in the division, did not share the same fortunes on their debut as they were edged out 3-2 by reigning champions Surbiton.
Georgie Twigg and Alice Sharp scored in the first quarter to send Surbiton on their way but two quick goals from new signing Izzy Petter and Beth Peers got Loughborough back on level terms at the break.
It was an impressive outing from Loughborough but it wasn’t meant to be for the newly-promoted side as Emily Defroand’s 40th-minute goal ensured the reigning champions got off to a winning start.
After reaching the play-offs last season, Buckingham laid down a marker for another impressive season as they beat Clifton Robinsons 4-2 at home.
Wales international Phoebe Richards opened the scoring in the third minute for the visitors, but Clifton Robinsons found it tough from then on as the hosts put four past them through Katrina Nicholson (2), Lottie Porter and Natasha James, with Izzy Webb’s reply proving nothing but a consolation for Clifton.
Elsewhere, Holcombe snatched a 1-0 win over East Grinstead thanks to a 61st-minute penalty corner from Lorna Cruickshank, while the University of Birmingham settled for a 2-2 draw with Bowdon Hightown.
Delyth Thomas and Millie Giglio put the University of Birmingham ahead twice but on both occasions Aine Curran stepped up to help Bowdon escape with a point.
RESULTS FROM ROUND 1 OF THE INVESTEC WOMEN'S HOCKEY LEAGUE
Beeston 1-4 Hampstead & Westminster
Buckingham 4-2 Clifton Robinsons
Holcombe 1-0 East Grinstead
Loughborough Students 2-3 Surbiton
University of Birmingham 2-2 Bowdon