Wilmslow High School’s under 16 and U19 netball teams represented Cheshire in the regional round of the National Schools Tournament playing against winners from the Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria tournaments and vying for a place in the National Finals on Saturday, 2nd February.
A disappointing performance by the Under 16 team saw them lose out 12 – 6 to Loreto in their opening match. However, confidence regained, a much improved performance across the court, with the attack in particular stepping up, saw them hang on for an 8 – 7 win against St Michaels. Then a fantastic team effort saw them overwhelm St Marys 16 – 3 and a very physical Sedburgh side 12 – 6.
Despite leading 5 – 4 at half time against a strong Penworthan team, the Wilmslow girls could not hold on in the second half, eventually losing the tie 11 – 9. Despite the disappointment of missing out on a place in the National Finals, credit to the girls for picking themselves up and beating North Chadderton 11 – 5 to finish in third place overall.
Playing with confidence and composure, defending all the way down the court and playing fluid netball in attack, the under 19 team started the day with an excellent victory over Stonyhurst 10 – 5. It was a great start to the tournament in difficult playing conditions with temperatures at freezing and blinding sunlight.
A fiercely competitive game saw Wilmslow draw their second match of the day 13 – 13 against Hulme Grammar. Trailing by one goal with 12 seconds to go, Fiona Daglish made an outstanding interception which was taken full advantage of by the rest of the team and converted into a goal by Alex Palin.
The goal was contested fiercely by the opposition coaching staff with both tournament referees - but although the ball had not travelled fully through the ring on the buzzer, it had by the umpire’s whistle and the game starts and ends on the umpire’s whistle so the goal stood and the game ended in a draw. Further victories against Wirral Grammar School and Sedburgh were to follow, meaning that Wilmslow went into the semi finals as group winners.
A tense semi ginal against old foes Fallibroome saw the scores tied 7 – 7 at full time. The game was frenetic, fast paced and littered with errors from both teams. As the game went into extra time, the Wilmslow girls managed to lift themselves physically and mentally, winning the extra time 5-1 to go through to the final, but more importantly qualifying for the National Finals for the first time ever.
With players tired and injured, and changes made, Wilmslow were unable to lift themselves one last time in the final, narrowly losing to Hulme Grammar 12 – 10.
Under 19 coach, Caroline Dunn commented that, “The girls were an absolute credit to themselves and Wilmslow High School. They played with grit, determination, flair and an absolute belief that they could win the tournament.”
The under 19s will now travel to Basildon in March to contest the National Finals.
Under 16 Squad: Natalie Mitchell, Natalia Schofield, Holly James, Kensey Tucker, Milly Graham, Iona Darroch, Rosie Chapman, Rose Hewertson, Katie Orr.
Under 19 Squad: Alex Palin captain, Lauren Clark vice captain, Emma O'Brien, Kate Buxton, Charlotte O'Brien, Georgie Webster, Fiona Daglish, Megan Wilson, Megan Thorburn, Chloe Wright.
This is a member post by Huw Williams.