Lancaster University’s Netball second team triumphed 30-29 in an extremely close-run contest versus Liverpool John Moore’s University (LJMU). The team continued their fine start to the season with a third win in as many games, narrowly edging out LJMU in the first round of the Northern conference cup.
LJMU made a flying start to the game scoring with their first four efforts, to take an early 4-1 lead. However what was to follow was the epitome of a nip and tuck match, with no team ever being more than four goals ahead. Lancaster goal attack Holly Archer was in fantastic form in the opening quarter, at times single-handedly keeping Lancaster in the match with her shooting prowess.
However in the opening quarter Lancaster could find no answer to the energy, movement and vision of the opposition centre, who was in all honesty running the game. The link up play between LJMU’s goal shooter and goal attack was at times mesmerizing and they took a deserved 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In spite of it being LJMU’s centre to start the second quarter Lancaster were the first to score after a great interception by centre Sarah Prescott, and an assured finish by goal shooter Zoe Wren at the second attempt. LJMU extended their lead during a scrappy period of play to 13-9 before Wren scored three goals in quick succession, including two courtesy of assists from Captain Grace Biggins.
Lancaster continued their brief dominance, scoring two further goals, both Archer, to take Lancaster into the lead for the first time in the match. However the lead did not last very long at all with LJMU scoring immediately from the restart, and once more again from the Lancaster centre, to take a very narrow 15-14 lead into the half-time interval.
Lancaster went out all guns blazing in the second half and scored the first three goals of the third quarter through Wren, two and Archer, and before too long they had taken a commanding 20-16 lead. However this prompted LJMU to come back even stronger, rattling in four with no Lancaster reply to tie the scores at 20-20. LJMU’s goal shooter and goal attack continued their fine link up play throughout the whole quarter steering their team to a 25-23 lead with just one quarter left to play.
Lancaster pulled the score back to 25-25 courtesy of two more goals from the outstanding Wren, before taking the lead through a long range effort from Archer to take a one goal lead. LJMU responded with two long range efforts of their own before Archer tied the scores yet again at 27-27, creating an unbearably tense atmosphere with only five minutes remaining. LJMU looked to have spoilt the party as in quick succession their goal attack and goal shooter scored to give a two goal lead with only three and a half minutes left.
LJMU attempted to slow the game down at this point knowing full well, that they were ahead, but Lancaster rallied strongly making numerous vital last ditch interceptions. Archer pulled one back for Lancaster sending the watching spectators into raptures, creating a sense of expectancy amongst the Lancaster fans, and inevitability for LJMU. Wren pulled the game back to 29-29 with only one minute remaining with a fantastic shot under immense pressure.
However it was LJMU’s start, meaning they were slight favourites to win at that point. But Lancaster were having none of it, a great interception by now goal defence Sullivan helped launch a fantastic counter attack, with substitute Alison Young and Archer involved. However it was left to Wren to finish it off, after a desperate effort by their goal keeper, saw their player called up for contact, and Wren finish with aplomb under pressure. Lancaster leading 30-29 with only 15 seconds remaining managed to retian possession from their restart until the final whistle sent the players and fans wild.
Captain Biggins said “I am extremely proud of the team’s performance today, to beat a team from a much higher league is a fantastic effort and shows just how much we can achieve as a team this year”.