BUCS Northern 3B
The University of York Netball firsts came through a tight encounter to defeat current BUCS Northern 3B league leaders, Leeds seconds. It was an ominous display which will enhance the belief that York can compete with the very best and vie for the title this season. The result ultimately crowns what has been a magnificent day for UYNC, with all three teams enjoying respective victories.
The quarter began with both sides seeing attacks come to nothing, such was either team’s defensive discipline. It wasn’t long, however, before York penetrated Leeds’ resistance with goal shooter Emma Loft initiating the scoring for the Black and Gold. It was a typically even affair, with both teams adopting similar playing styles as each sought to stamp their authority early on in the match. For York, centre and captain, Hollie Dixson was combining well with wing attack, Rachel Turner as their eye catching and expansive passing display was complimented by the duo’s fluidity of movement. On one occasion, Dixson superbly received the ball on the turn before feeding goal attack Grace Baker, who duly converted. Leeds were proving stiff opposition and were soon testing York’s own defence with goal defence Chloe Cannon intercepting crucially to ensure her side remained in the ascendancy. York were, therefore, good value for their 8-4 lead as the whistle signalled the end of the first quarter.
Leeds appeared rejuvenated come the beginning of the second and were the first to open the scoring. York remained unfazed, however, and were calmly going about their business. This was typified in one instance when Dixson patiently awaited the diagonal run of Baker, before picking her out unmarked with a inch-perfect pass. The goal attack then made no mistake with her toss into the hoop from close range. The White Rose resisted the temptation to grant their opposition respect, despite their lofty position in the league, yet Leeds soon found momentum of their own. With obstructions increasingly entering York’s play, the away team demonstrated why they are the team to beat as they clawed their way back to end the quarter with the scores tied at 15-15.
The half-way point signalled a tactical change for York, with Grace Clarke taking over from Baker at goal attack. This was the quarter in which York’s defensive resilience really showed, with goal keeper Lottie Hyett commandeering her defence to good effect. In fact, it was Hyett’s defiant interceptions that time and time again prevented the opposition from gaining a grip hold on the game, as their attacks were soon foiled. Clarke’s introduction was the catalyst for York to regain the momentum that had carried the team through the first quarter and she wasted no time in scoring her first two goals. Both teams were difficult to separate, seemingly matching each other in every area of the court. It was no surprise, therefore, when the quarter ended once more with the scores level, this time at 21-21 and leaving all to play for in the final quarter.
There was a sense that York were on the cusp of claiming a vital victory as the final quarter began. The Black and Gold remained composed, however, despite the anticipation and did not allow themselves to get overwhelmed by their proximity to victory. With Baker now on for Loft, the stage was set for York to take the game by the scruff of its neck. Take it they did, with Clarke opening the scoring before notching another soon after as York sailed into a two goal advantage. Meanwhile, Hyett was pressurising the Leeds attack at the opposite end of the court, persistently recovering possession. Even when a Leeds player suffered an injury, which resulted in a momentary pause in proceedings, York remained unperturbed and proceeded in a similar vein with their attacking creativity clear for all to see. The final whistle sounded with York enjoying a thrilling victory thanks to a dominant last period which ultimately secured a 31-26 triumph.
Speaking after the game, ecstatic captain, Hollie Dixson spoke to Nouse saying, “They are top of the table at the moment and we were second to them, so we knew this was the biggest game of the year and we are over the moon to come away with such a result. Every single player played out of their skin, especially our defence today.”
Regarding the impressive last quarter for York, Dixson continued to state, “We kept our heads so cool throughout the whole quarter and everyone was working really hard. It was insane that we kept pushing all the way through until the end and the interceptions always seemed to lead to goals. It was just amazing.”
York: Hyett, Cannon, Killbride, Dixson (C), Turner, Baker, Loft.
Player of the Match: Lottie Hyett.