U11 ISA National Netball Finals

Our journey to the Nationals began on Friday 10th May with a 5 hour drive to York.  We stayed as a team at a hotel in Wetherby and enjoyed a team dinner before heading off to bed for a relatively early night in preparation for the big day ahead.

An early start and team breakfast (along with a lot of nerves) set us up for the day and we travelled to Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate for what would be a very long and challenging day of Netball! After an intense warm up session and a coach’s and umpire’s briefing the Nationals got under way with our first game versus Oakhyrst Grange (London South) at 11.00am.  The girls set off to a flying start and in a very unusual fashion, won their first game in the pool section 10-4.  This gave us the boost of confidence we needed for the rest of the day.  Our second game versus Grantham (Midlands) tested our shooters and they certainly delivered giving us a 9-2 win!  Our third game versus Bowden Prep (The North) in the pool stage was the most important game of that stage.  Bowden Prep had also won two games and were looking very strong with a huge goal total so far in the tournament.  We had to beat them and win our next game to qualify for the cup stage in the afternoon.  The game was extremely intense and unfortunately the weather had turned with high winds setting in, challenging our shooters.  At half time, we were 4-2 up but Bowden Prep came back fighting in the second half and brought the score back to 4-4.  Our defence were certainly tested throughout the game and although we did not manage to score any goals in the second half, we were thrilled to finish the game as a draw.  We knew we had to win the fourth game of the pool with a huge goal lead to even catch Bowden Prep and give us a chance to qualify for the cup.  Never underestimate our Littlegarth team and although we did not quite achieve the 24 goals needed to secure that place, the team did score 18 goals in 14 minutes and in torrential rain!  We had won our final pool stage match versus Avon House (London North) 18-2 which meant we had secured a place in the Plate tournament.

Our 5th game of the day (the Semi-Final of the Plate) was the most testing game of Netball we had ever played and the most nail-biting.   Lady Barn (The North) were an exceptionally talented team and an intense 14 minutes of Netball led to a 5-5 draw at full time.  This meant that we had to go to Golden Goal.  The captains of the team had to toss for the centre pass and Littlegarth won the toss!  After a very successful and slick centre pass, Littlegarth passed the ball into our shooting circle within seconds!  Our shooters (after shooting 41 goals in the pool stage) missed 4 shots on goal and Lady Barn gained possession of the ball.  They were quick to pass the ball down the court BUT their attack made a huge error and passed the ball off the back line.  Our defence, quick to take advantage of this mistake passed consistently down the court to get the ball back into our shooting circle…first attempt on goal…miss…second attempt on goal…GOAL!!! We had won the semi-final.  After much celebration and what felt like we had won the Nationals our team had to compose themselves for their final match of the day, the final of the plate!

Our final game was against The Grange (The North) and we knew from their pool stage that they were a very competent Netball team.  At half time The Grange were winning 6-4 and our girls continued to fight for the win but The Grange proved to be just that little bit stronger than us winning 12-6 on the final whistle.  Although this was our first loss of the day, the girls were certainly not deflated.  They knew that over 200 schools had entered the Regional round, 19 schools had qualified for the Nationals and they had just become 6th in the country for U11 ISA Netball (2nd in the Plate).  They also knew that the reason for not qualifying for the cup stage was due to goal difference and not because of any losses.  Bowden Prep eventually came 3rd at Nationals and Littlegarth knew they had drawn with them in the pool stage.  That showed their full potential and the standard of play they delivered all day. 

The two other teams from our East Anglian region; St Margaret’s (1st at Regional) and Ursuline (3rd at Regional) were placed 9th and 10th at Nationals.  Our team can be hugely proud of their effort, skill level and pure determination that they displayed throughout this process and their achievement at the U11 IAPS Regional tournament (1st place).  We would like to take this opportunity in congratulating them on all of these achievements.  Well done girls and thank you for proving that a small independent school in Essex can achieve so much with the passion that you have shown throughout the last few years.