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        U19 Netballers are off to the National Finals

        Saturday 25th January saw St Edmund’s College U19 Netball team represent Hertfordshire in England Netball’s East Region tournament, where the top two teams would qualify for national finals in March. The team had been training well together in preparations for the tournament and stood in good stead for a positive day. With a later start in the tournament compared to the rest of the group the team knew they had to come out fighting and settle quickly into their rhythm with their first opposition being Framlingham College. At half time St Edmund’s just had their noses ahead with a 6-4 lead. We continued to apply the pressure on the opposition, turning over ball and capitalising on the possession to finish the game 14-8 winners. Next, they faced guests in the competition Broxbourne School, this is always a closely contested well-fought game so the girls knew they had to step up to the challenge. The first half saw St Edmund’s stamp their authority on the game by establishing a 6-2 lead at half time. However, Broxbourne came back fighting in the second half. St Edmund’s managed to hold their nerve fighting till the final whistle to win 11-9. Stephen Perse Foundation were the teams next opponents and with a tall goal shooter the team were aware they needed to break their oppositions play down early and this is exactly what they did. With immense defensive pressure from the whole team, they continuously caused errors in the oppositions play allowing St Edmund’s to have a comfortable 11-4 lead at half time. The girls continued to apply the pressure winning 19-8. With two group games left the team could not rest and had to keep fighting for every win. Gresham’s school were tough opposition and rattled the girls in the first half by having the lead at half time. The girls dug deep for the second half, fought for every turnover and were patient with possession, which proved pivotal as they turned the game around to win 14-9. The final group game was against local rivals Brentwood and a win would mean being top of the group for St Edmund’s.   With the semi final looming the team settled into an early rhythm, playing excellent netball to win the final group game and top the group. 

        Squad: Courtney Ferns (C), Mairead Sheehy, Nada Tadros, Beth Gardner, Antonella Pittaluga, Ella Buenaventura, Chloe Hoban, Toni Akinola, Adeoluwa Okufuwa

        The semi final saw the girls face The Bishop Stortford High School, who they had previously played twice in the County Round of the competition, but previous results were nothing for the team to be confident about. The Bishop Stortford High School came out fighting in the first half of the match and St Edmund’s took time to adjust to counteract their play. At half time the scores were level and all to play for with the winner of this match securing a place in the National Finals. St Edmund’s scored the first goal of the second half and then were quick to make a turnover and establish a two goal lead. With the game going goal for goal from here neither side could afford to make a mistake. St Edmund’s were patient with possession, held their nerve and won the game by 3 goals to secure a spot at National finals. 

        With emotions running high it with time for the final, to decide who would be East Regional Champions. St Edmund’s were to play Felsted school in a hotly contested final game of the tournament. St Edmund’s were quick to establish a lead and ensured they marked tight to not let Felsted back into the game. Unfortunately, in the last few minutes of play St Edmund’s suffered an injury but this was not to faze the team and they were crowned 16-9 winners! 

        The team will now represent Hertfordshire and the East of England at National Finals in March. We wish the team the best of luck!