Leeds Beckett came out victorious in the inaugural Varsity handball match in what was a competitive encounter, winning against Leeds Uni 29-17.
The match started frantically, which to anyone who has watched the sport before, is no surprise. Goals were going in at both ends, with Beckett leading narrowly 5-4 with 10 minutes gone. Kristin Smette Gulbrandsen was performing well in the centre of the court; her sharp movement caused problems for the opposing defence whilst also combining well with Nick Chilton to find a way through.
Goalkeeper Mikhail Kononovic made some crucial saves to keep the Gryphons in the tie, although he was helpless to prevent Beckett stretching their lead to five points. Captain Ben Jackson scored some sublime goals as Uni struggled to keep in touch, and as the halftime whistle sounded Beckett held a 17-10 lead.
To their credit they kept their heads up and kept battling, Ellie Whitehead personified the spirit of the camp as she cut in from the left flank, broke through the physical Beckett defence, and thundered in an amazing effort. The difference between the two teams was the clinical nature of the Beckett offence; Uni were often culpable of lacking a final killer pass, whereas their opponents broke quickly and effectively to devastating effect.
Both teams deserve extra credit for excelling with makeshift mixed gender sides, as neither could field a women’s team. With quite a number in attendance it is clear to see why the sport has been given a Varsity slot, and after such an enthralling encounter it will surely be a staple sport for years to come.