Van Mildert netball seal Varsity in tense decider

Van Mildert on their way to victory
Van Mildert on their way to victory

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With fifteen of the sixteen games played, Durham’s strong performance in the morning had been pegged back by York in the afternoon, reducing the margin to only five points. The scores stood at 32-27 with Durham agonisingly only half a point from overall victory.

It all came down to the final match, the women’s netball A match, which saw Van Mildert take on Halifax. Had York won the match, they would have secured a draw overall.

In future years, should the contest end in a draw, the current holders of the competition will be crowned winners.

However, with this year’s event being the inaugural competition, there were no contingency plans in place had it ended in a draw.

Luckily, Van Mildert led the game from the start, winning 38-28 in a tense fixture and securing overall victory for Durham.

Despite the outcome of the whole tournament resting on their performance, Van Mildert player Sally Evans said the girls were helped by the fact they did not realize the importance of the match at the time.

“We did not know the competition was that close so we were just playing to win really. We found out how huge it was after and it was definitely a relief to have won!”

The standard of the match was high, but Durham benefited from a dominant start which saw them take an early 5-1 lead, giving them a springboard for the rest of the match.

“We played really well against a strong York team, who had loads of university players representing them.

“It was a tight match, but an early lead set us up brilliantly for the rest of the game.”

With all other matches having concluded, the spectators, mainly York students, flocked to watch the deciding fixture, further increasing the pressure on Durham’s players.

“The atmosphere was great because lots of people came to watch the match. That amount of support made it a lot harder for us though, as we were lacking fans.”

However, the girls never really looked troubled throughout the match. The first quarter ended 12-4 in Van Mildert’s favour, but a more even second quarter saw York reduce the deficit to five points at half-time, with Durham going in to the break 19-14 ahead.

Van Mildert reasserted their dominance in the third quarter, taking a 31-21 lead into the final quarter and they never looked back, winning 38-28 and achieving overall victory for Durham. Reflecting on the day as a whole, Evans was positive.

“It was a well-organised event and the idea was really cool. It was a shame a lot of people did not stay for the closing ceremony but we got great stash out of it!”

Photograph courtesy of College Varsity 2014

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