Netball Sport

Alcuin ace first match of Spring Term

The new year started well for autumn term's Highly Commended team, Alcuin Netball 1s

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Image Credit: LUKE SNELL

Alcuin netball 1s kick-started spring term with a victory over Halifax College ahead of what will be a hotly contested round of Varsity Qualifiers.

Last terms Highly Commended ‘Club of The Term’, Alcuin College Netball 1s, were back in action this weekend with their first post-Christmas match vs Halifax College. Having finished 2nd in the First Division in the Autumn term, the 1s are undoubtedly determined to continue their winning streak this term. And it’s safe to say they did not disappoint this weekend.

After a shaky start, the girls entered the second quarter with little margin for error, leading by just one goal, 3-2. GK Natalie Buchan used her height advantage to Alcuin’s benefit as she plucked several attempted over-head balls and prevented Halifax shooters from having a shot on goal.

Patience and accurate feeding from mid-court player Emma also proved difficult for Halifax defenders to mark.

Down 7-6, the team made some positional changes in the 3rd quarter. Focus on possession and man-on-man marking after the half-time team talk created a much tighter structure. Strong drives from the Halifax shooters continued to put Alcuin under pressure, and it was clear both shooters were well drilled in playing the ball between themselves and creating space. The defenders responded well to this, using their athleticism to make tips to disrupt play when Halifax delayed shooting from the outer edge of the circle. Communication also noticeably improved, which undoubtedly lifted morale and encouraged the girls to keep their heads up. Centre-court player Becky Sizer joined the defense in pressurising Halifax attackers by continually chasing down the ball and staying man-on around the circle. Despite a solid defensive effort, the defenders struggled against patient and accurate passing from Halifax attackers, which saw the quarter end in a draw.

Tensions heightened as the final quarter started on equal footing, 10 goals all. Halifax consistently refused to let Alcuin settle and chased goal for goal, putting pressure on each centre in the hope of gaining what could have been one game changing turn-over. Alcuin did not crumble under pressure. GD Emily Harris used her speed to cut off diagonal passes, a product of tiredness from the Halifax attackers, and supported her mid-court players all the way up court. Eventual player of the match, Sarah Dance, dominated the centre court and maintained a steady pace that relaxed the rest of her team and ensured no mistakes were made. Both GA and GS tested Halifax defenders with good use of a variety of dodging methods, rotations and back line drives proving to be favourable techniques. Consequently, a run of goals disrupted Halifax’ game play and increased defensive pressure successfully put Alcuin in the driving seat of the action once more.

A nail biting final few minutes saw Halifax claw back Alcuin’s lead and a conscious team effort was required to maintain consistency. The closely contested match finished with Alcuin taking the win by just one goal, 15-14. The team's relief was clear as the final whistle sounded and the girls celebrated an important first win of the new term. Certainly the team will want to use this victory to gather momentum as they build towards the all-important Varsity qualifiers.

Despite last terms success, any spectator watching this weekend would be surprised to learn that the team is an almost entirely new combination of girls. Saturday’s performance, (and a series of solid efforts last term), demonstrates the girls ability to adapt quickly to new set ups, a quality which could prove invaluable in the Varsity qualifiers.

Captain Kat Ailles was delighted with this weeks performance and says the team are excited for the rest of the season and determined to put in the hard work needed to move up the League table. Weekly Tuesday training sessions will now be dedicated to maintaining the girls fitness and game-play, so they are on top form and fighting fit for the upcoming Varsity Qualifiers.

Catch the 1s live in action at the Qualifiers on Saturday 08 February, where the girls will take on current top seed, Derwent 1s. Derwent have had a flying start to the season with a series of impressive victories last term, and another convincing win against Alcuin 2s this weekend. With this in mind it’s safe to say the upcoming clash between the two teams will not be a match you want to miss.

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