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U21S SEASON REVIEW 2022

19th April 2022

The 2021/2022 NPL season came to a close last weekend in Nottingham, and the Mavericks U21 squad can reflect on a season of resilient wins and disappointing losses. 

In our opening weekend of fixtures, we faced a strong Team Bath side. It was clear that the squad found it hard to settle in their first game and looked nervous.  Bath gave a slick and polished performance, resulting in a 59-35 loss.  After the game we listened to solid advice from the coaches and with a positive attitude, we were more confidence from the first whistle as we faced Surrey Storm in Game 2. This was certainly a much stronger performance, with accurate shooting and good transitions through the midcourt and defensive pressure from the start.  It was a determined win 58-49.

We made the long journey to Manchester to play Thunder in Game 3.  We matched Thunder’s speed and movement well for the first half and the game was well within our reach where we only trailed by 2 goals for most of the second quarter.  Manchester Thunder showed their class and why they remained unbeaten in the league all season with very few unforced errors and slick defending throughout the court.  Despite a strong third quarter, Mavericks couldn’t sustain their momentum in the last quarter losing 57-43.

Our game against Pulse was a great display of resilience and sheer grit.  Pulse had several regular VNSL players in the side which seemed to unsettle our squad in the first quarter, and we fell short of our best play ending up some way off the pace.  There were too many unforced errors and loose balls which Pulse punished us for.  But in the second quarter, the whole team came to life, and we started to dig deep, turn ball, convert turnovers in attack and put pressure throughout the whole court and were only 2 down at half time.  It was a fantastic display of what we are capable of, and we stayed with Pulse throughout the quarter 3 showing flair and strength throughout all areas of the court.  But Pulse showed why they were NPL Champions with a very classy final quarter, taking the game 56-44.

Our journey to Worcester to play Severn Stars was rewarded with an impressive 61-37 with all 11 members of the squad taking the court.  We started with great confidence which was maintained throughout the whole game and Severn Stars never really challenged the team throughout the whole game.  An outstanding whole team performance.

Arguably our best game of the season was against Loughborough Lightning.  We found ourselves down 10-12 in the first quarter but knew this game was in our reach.  We took a slender lead at half time 24-20 with outstanding shooting, slick and accurate passing and very few unforced errors.  Despite being 38-29 up at the end of quarter 3, Lightning battled hard, but we held our nerve and thoroughly deserved the 50-44 win.

Leeds Rhinos was our closest game and despite missing 3 key players, the squad displayed great strength and determination, winning the game 62-60.

Probably our most disappointing game was against Wasps, particularly after such a hard-fought win again Rhinos.  We never really settled, Wasps stepped up and put out a strong performance and the squad just couldn’t find any momentum.  This was a team I felt we could and should have beaten.

We faced North East in our last league game at the NPL Closing Tournament weekend in Nottingham.  Mavericks put out a proud performance in their last game of the league.  We were missing both Kendra and Lesley due to Covid, but Emily and Sach supported the squad giving strong advice and we entered the game confidently.  With a different starting 7, the girls settled quickly, and we came away with a well deserved 59-45 win resulting in a 5th place finish in the league. 

OPTM – Libby

PPTM – Helaina

CPM – Pippa

That afternoon we were put into the 5/6/7 place playoff against Rhinos and Wasps.

Rhinos brought a different level to this game.  They stepped up their physicality and definitely had a point to prove having lost to us by 2 goals earlier in the season.  The team just couldn’t match their pace, and Rhinos forced us to make too many errors which they capitalised on.  We couldn’t convert turnovers and fell short of our previous performance.  A disappointing loss 67-47.

OPTM – Ziana

PPTM – Helaina

CPM – Sophia

Our final game of the tournament on the final day was against Wasps.  This was the last U21 game for some of the squad, so we wanted to put out a solid performance.  Wasps never led by more than 2 goals until the last quarter, when we seemed to lose concentration and Wasps pulled away taking the win 53-41.

OPTM – Ziana

PPTM – Sophia

CPM – Libby

I have been so proud to captain the U21 squad for the past 2 years and despite the disruption by Covid, have seen us grow and develop as players under the care and guidance of Sach, Kendra, Lesley, and Emily.  

U21 Squad: Eliza Barclay, Aliyah Zaranyika, Amy Howell, Bella Baylis, Ella Blair, Ellie Oswick, Esme Papworth, Holly James, Isla Finlay, Kelsey Bashford, Leila, Allen, Libby Burgess, Naomi Allen, Pippa Dixon, Sam Harding, Sophia Pawlaczek, Tayla Wright-Brown, Ziana Butt

Leadership Team: Eliza Barclay (captain), Pippa Dixon (Vice-captain), Isla Finlay (Vice-Captain)  

Written by Eliza Barclay - U21 Captain

 

I am really proud of the girls this season. It’s been a season like no other. A massive thank you to Kendra, Lesley, Emily, Hannah, Sophie & Marc and Kat. 
 
The achievements of this squad have been amazing. The standard of the U21 league is always phenomenal and this year was no exception. The friendships on and off court have been incredible - during our final debrief there were tears by many. Whilst a number of girls will be off to pastures new for the first time in a long time the core of the team will remain together. 
 
Sachel Grant - U21 Head Coach

 

'I am really proud of the girls this season. It’s been a season like no other. A massive thank you to Kendra, Lesley, Emily, Hannah, Sophie & Marc and Kat.' 

'The achievements of this squad have been amazing. The standard of the U21 league is always phenomenal and this year was no exception. The friendships on and off court have been incredible - during our final debrief there were tears by many. Whilst a number of girls will be off to pastures new for the first time in a long time the core of the team will remain together.' Sachel Grant - U21 Head Coach