In a match that went into a gut-wrenching fifth quarter, Harry Leitch gives us the scoop on Varsity netball
This was a match to leave even the most avid anti-sports fanatic a nail biting, nervous wreck. Seventy-five minutes of ‘I can’t take my eyes off the court’ high intensity play saw a battle unfold. Fighting to for the victorious title won by UCL when these teams last contended for varsity triumph, March 6th 2016 should be remembered as the ultimate head-to-head.
UCL used the first two quarters to boast their focused, dynamic play. #BleedPurple?? These netballers were sweating purple. Every ball, pass and interception counted, as the scoreboard showed King’s were on their tail by only a few goals. Tonge and Falconer at GS and GA pulled out all the stops, silencing the cheering crowd who were left speechless, beguiled by the skill in the shots they bore witness to.
The close score bred tangible tension that was heavy in the air. Osrin demonstrated her talent for intricately placing feeds into the circle, and the team exuded speed and concentration. The UCL women pushed forward during the third quarter. Keeping King’s on lock down, Barker and Sulkin in defence proved too mighty a force for their befuddled opponents. With gravity defying interceptions from Greer, and a stealthy one by Dowling, UCL now ran ahead by 6 goals.
The match continued as the two teams clashed; agility, strength and stamina were their weapons. Play was increasingly explosive, but the goal difference remained under threat as King’s slowly crept up behind us. Soon the scores had evened out, yet the dedication of UCL did not falter. Wilson showed her flare for endurance, and the team fought to secure a draw as the final seconds slipped by. With spectators on tender hooks, the whistle sounded to a score of 26-26.
And what of this outcome? The varsity gods do not look upon draws favourably. With the announcement of an extra, deciding quarter, the UCL netballers pulled on the quality they are known for: determination. Yes, this is what sees them to Loop when they have deadlines looming. Yes, this is what empowered them as they took to the court for another testing 15 minutes.
The blur that followed saw UCL turnover passes and dominate in defence. Support from Scott and Stewart kept the team motivated, and pressure mounted. Frustratingly, the score flitted briefly from a draw, to a difference of one, then devastatingly back to a draw. Each individual was unwavering in their effort, and those long netballer legs did not stop moving. Inevitably, neither did the clock. The last few seconds of play were on the horizon.
With a difference of one goal and UCL about to take a shot, King’s took the match. The clock may have been on their side this time, but next year they should bring umbrellas – it is forecast for purple rain.
Image credit: London Varsity Series