After BCU Women’s and Men’s Hockey teams both suffered losses on the opening day of Varsity 2016, the BCU Netball 1st team had a lot of pressure on their shoulders coming into this match knowing if they lost by a huge deficit, the Varsity Championship would come to Aston University.
For BCU Netball’s 1st team, they would be losing two of their most talismanic players in Liberty Fletcher and Reanna Gordon, who will be graduating this year, which is a big loss to the team for next season. This season has been not one of their finest seasons, with no wins and 10 losses in the BUCS Midlands 2A League, languishing bottom of the table and relegated from the league.
Their captain Gabby Watkins knew that the Netball 1st team had to get off to a good start on oppositional turf in front of a crowd divided by BCU and Aston fans at the Woodcock Sports Centre. The start of the match was delayed by half an hour so it was pushed back to 7pm, which may put both teams slightly off-guard, but nonetheless, the crowd and teams were ready.
Once the first quarter kicked off, BCU looked very nervy with ball in hand, with Aston punishing BCU’s mistakes with the first two points of the match in the first two minutes of the quarter. Aston 1st were making sure that they had total control of possession, ensuring that BCU 1st would not get the upper hand over Aston, who were steadily building a lead over the away side. It wasn’t until eight minutes into the match, BCU would get their first point in the net with a huge roar from the BCU crowd. But the story of the quarter was Aston had built a 10-point lead coming into the second quarter (11-1).
The second quarter began and BCU Netball 1st were panicking and edgy in their quest to claw some of the deficit back to Aston 1st, but Aston kept doing what they were doing in the first quarter and piled on even more points, increasing the gap to within at the time 22 points at the end of the second quarter, compared to BCU’s lowly three points (25-3). The scoreline of the quarter was Aston 1st 14 – BCU 1st 2.
BCU 1st were about to suffer even more bad luck as “Fitcher” suffered a bad knee at the end of the quarter, much to the disappointment of the 1st team and the BCU crowd, which she didn’t play the 3rd quarter, which BCU started showing signs of life by playing good, solid netball, even making Aston make some mistakes in the quarter, but Aston were too strong and kept capitalising on BCU’s late charge in which BCU Netball 1st had a 28-point deficit (36-8).
The final quarter, Fletcher came back on for the girls, but it was a case of “Too little, too late” as that was the story of BCU Netball 1st’s match against Aston as BCU were scoring consistently into the net in the final quarter. If this was to be one of the great sporting comebacks in university sports history, then BCU would need to play an absolute near-perfect game, but Aston 1st were outplaying BCU the entire match, ensuring that with a half century of points, they won the match by a 34-point deficit.
Gabby said post-match “As we had found out all teams had lost on Monday, there was huge pressure for Netball as we knew we had to win to still have a chance of winning the overall Varsity event. We felt tense and excited about the game and everybody was nervous because we wanted to do so well for BCU.
“Unfortunately on the day, our shots didn’t go in, causing us to fall behind from Aston getting a turnaround every time we missed. I felt their shooters were strong and barely missed any, which was a downfall for BCU. We had stamina, techniques and the ability to win, but on the day we couldn’t get our goals in which is a scary moment for any shooter, and maybe the pressure got to them? I don’t know. I felt we all played amazingly but it all comes down to shots and every time Aston’s Goal Shooter got the ball, she didn’t miss once.”
Pictures credited to Scratch Radio’s Finn Longmuir.