The Netball season got off to a flying start this week with the York University 1sts strolling to a convincing 33-14 win over local rivals York St John. Despite only a few days of training and numerous changes from last year’s squad, the home team displayed great cohesion and confidence on court, leading to a comfortable triumph.
During their pre-match huddle, the team, captained by centre court player Amy Smith, showed determination and a sense of unity before the players even stepped onto court. Coupled with the amount of support coming from the sidelines, the game promised to be an exciting one.
The match started with a St John centre, but tight marking in the centre third led to St John being penalised for a held ball, gifting York the possession. Unfortunately this was not taken advantage of due to a throw-away ball in the goal third. A stunning interception by GA Sarah Pycroft on the defensive gave York their first opportunity to push the ball into the circle, and a well organised back up on the circle edge by the attack secured York the first goal of the match.
From the second centre York produced a flawless display of netball, and within seconds of the whistle had secured their lead with a four-ball set piece move, which lead to the second goal of the match. By the end of the first quarter spirits were high among the York players as they led the match 11-5.
Due to the success of the first quarter no changes were made to positioning and the strength displayed at the beginning of the match was further evident in the second quarter. Efficient consistency and effective communication between the players allowed the York team to dominate all areas of the court. WA Clare Shaw in particular displayed excellent skills when being double marked at the centre passes, where she was able to manoeuvre herself into an unmarked space each time.
York made a number of positional changes going into the third quarter, including captain Amy Smith, which resulted in less communication and cohesiveness on the court. This meant that a number of chances to intercept were squandered. Although the team retained their lead, they lacked the fluidity seen earlier in the match, as was shown by the number of throw-away balls and missed opportunities at goal.
Although York had a substantial lead that was unlikely to be taken away from them, they displayed great skill and determination in defence, fighting tirelessly to prevent the St John shooters from getting the ball near the post. York WD Hannah Martin made a number of successful attempts to keep the St John GA out of the circle, leaving both circle defence, Tess Olsen and Katie Cowper-Johnson, able to put considerable pressure on the remaining shooter. This immaculate display resulted in York only conceding three goals in the last quarter to take the victory easily.
Credit must be given to the two first-year circle attacks, Sami Briggs and Sarah Fisher who, despite constant pressure and hassle by the St John defence, were able to consistently work the ball around the circle to receive it under the post, resulting in numerous goals, and therefore in impressive debuts.