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Netball 1st off to flying start

Netball celebration

Netball 1st off to flying start

With the 1st team promoted into the South Eastern 6B division last year, questions were being asked whether the University of East London could perform at a higher level. These questions were thrown straight out of the window as UEL 1st Netball Club stormed to a 47-17 away win against Kent 3rds in the first BUCS game of the season.

This remarkable result came days after the squad was named on the 8th of October. Having been promoted last year, the squad had new members integrated into the team. The two new players brought into the team were GK Nadine Sefton and GS Jules Kate, both whom were freshers. Regarding the shape of the team and whether the team would gel straight away, the huge 47-17 win sent out a statement to the rest of the league.

Play got underway in Kent and the first quarter was a particularly difficult quarter for UEL. With the new players still getting to grips with their new teammates, play was slow with passes being intercepted and not being received. However, GK Nadine and GD Joyce played well within the circle to keep the score down. The main concern for UEL was the fact that this was the first time playing with each other. The team were hoping for a quick start in the second quarter.

A fast paced start was what UEL needed. Wing Defence Elona Smith had a particularly impressive quarter playing very well in the middle breaking up play with multiple interceptions and turnovers. Kent made a change in their system to try and counter UEL's tactics. With Elona's good work in the middle, this gave the team an incentive to push on and receive passes from the centre. There passes were much more crisp and faster allowing Goal Shooter Jules Kate and Goal Attack Stacie Smith to turn these passes into goals.

After the break, the pace of the game slowed down. The attacking players of UEL started to conserve their stamina cueing the defence to step up their play. Elona and Joyce were influential at the back breaking up play and making interceptions. Their defensive positions helped the attack pick up good positions. With the strong defensive line, Kent's players became confused with strong passing from UEL. The score could have been higher only for the umpire to call basic decisions against UEL which was a negative.

The final quarter was more wearing Kent down. Elona and Joyce received passes at the back to break play up. Centre Dani Carruthers played a pivotal role making key passes to Shannon Cummins which resulted in multiple goals. Kent were forced into a substitution bringing on more height. This gave UEL's defence a hard time for a short period but by this time in the match, UEL had run away with the match.

Player of the Match was awarded to Elona Smith. The team were particularly impressed with her hard work and enthusiasm in her first match for UEL. Stacie Smith had this to say after the match: "Really pleased with the success of the team on our first game out considering we haven't played together properly. Everyone gave 110% which was excellent, you can't ask more from a player or a team".

Goal Defence Joyce Mlambo also said: "It was good to get the first game out of the way, playing together as a new squad. It was a good game, after the second quarter, we began to get used to how each other play".

So the University of East London have their first win under their belt. A slow start showed their inexperience between the team and their new players but as the game progressed, the team powered on and impressed in their first match. All eyes will be on UEL to see if they can keep up their impressive form and make it two wins out of two when they face the University of Essex who were also victorious in their first game. Let's hope the University of East London can top the table at the end of Match day 2.

Report by Ryan Butler.