U19 Girls Reach National Final
By Secretary Account
Following their 2nd place in the league, the girls headed to Birmingham for the National Playoffs making it through to the Final in May.
First they had to face Warrington Wolves in the quarter final, a team coached by GB coach Bill Baillie and certainly not to be underestimated. The Eagles team featured 5 GB squad players, so Baillie knew a thing or two about our team but our team were highly motivated and had a real sense of purpose about them from the start. Coach Mel Chowns again focussed on a four block defence where Diana Fartais and Elly Stonebridge held the line superbly. In attack Holly Thompson was having an outstanding game on the line, as was Zoe Lacour on the left wing. Warrington stayed with the Eagles in the early stages but gradually the experience of West London began to show and they pulled ahead to lead 16 -9 at half time. The team continued in the same vein in the second half with Eagles playing some of their best handball of the season, exploiting the spaces and Thompson continued to prosper as did Fartais. With a semi final spot up for grabs, Eagles kept the level high and showed great maturity in defence. The young Warrington side are ones to watch in the future but this was to be Eagles day and they ran out 29-18 winners.
Team and scorers: Akira Adeniran-Lowe (GK), Zoe Lacour (7),Simran Mankoo, Holly Thompson (11), Tyla Sartain (2), Elly Stonebridge (3), Diana Fartais(6), Christina Matei, Lorena Lanau
In the Semi Final, Eagles were up against the top side in the northern league, Shropshire, in a repeat of last years U16 semi final. Shropshire are a big club, with large numbers of players across all ages and are rightly ambitious but they came to the semi’s with two of their own GB squad players out injured. Eagles could sense a real opportunity to reach the final of the U19’s for the first time and went into the match with the same determination and will to win. Chowns had asked them to show how much they wanted this and they didn’t disappoint. Eagles started brilliantly and were rock solid in defence. They shut the door time and time again on Shropshire’s attack and when they did break through Adeniran – Lowe in goal was in fine form. The defence restricted Shropshire to just 3 goals in the first half. Fartais, Lacour, Thompson and Stonebridge were enjoying themselves in attack with Thompson benefitting from some excellent assists from Sartain. At half time Eagles led 10-3 and the final was in sight. The second half was a closer affair with Shropshire fighting hard to show their true ability but Eagles were resolute and never looked in danger of giving up the lead and ran out winners by 21-10. Eagles now face Stroud in the final.
Team and scorers: Akira Adeniran-Lowe (GK), Zoe Lacour (2),Simran Mankoo, Holly Thompson (6), Tyla Sartain (2), Elly Stonebridge (4), Diana Fartais(7), Christina Matei, Lorena Lanau