Women’s Handball: Leeds Uni 26-24 Leeds Beckett
LEEDS University’s women’s handball team edged past a resilient Beckett side in a hotly-contested match at The Edge on Wednesday afternoon.
Uni started brightly, with Ellie Whitehead scoring in the first 45 seconds of the match, beating the keeper by firing a shot into the bottom left-hand corner. The Gryphons then won back possession from the re-start and hit the target again to bag what was a deserved 2-0 lead.
Beckett took longer to settle into the game and they took time to adjust to a resilient Gryphon defence. After some brief exchanges of play, they grew in confidence and began to dominate possession, and with it, scored three goals to take the lead at 2-3.
Indeed, the first fifteen minutes of the game were fairly equal, with both sides squandering shooting chances at either end. Uni forward Whitehead came close when she hit the post twice but Uni lead at the break by a slender margin of two points at 10-8.
Beckett, however, ferociously cheered on by a large group of supporters, came out on the front foot at the start of the second half and thwarted Uni’s defence. A shot was fired through the hands of Uni’s goalkeeper in the first 30 seconds to make it 10-9. Beckett continued their attacking prowess and forced Uni to give away a penalty soon after, which was scored to make the game all-square.
The Gryphons grabbed their first goal of the second period in the next counter-attack, but Beckett pounced yet again, coolly slotting low into the corner to make it 11-11. Indeed, Beckett looked the livelier side – they were increasingly finding their rhythm and were causing defensive problems for Uni.
The superb Whitehead – arguably Uni’s best player of the game – responded with a powerful throw into the bottom left-hand corner of the net to the applause of the pitchside Gryphon supporters to level the game at 12-12.
The match was proving a difficult one to call, with both teams closely tied at 14-14 at the end third of the quarter before a moment of magic from Whitehead. The Fashion Design student proved why she is a Super-8 League player, showing excellent agility with an impressive pivot at the top-centre of the box to turn and shoot, edging Uni in front at 15-14.
Beckett once again responded and scored twice from two counter attacks to peg Uni back, before captain Authen scored brilliantly from ten metres out.
With eight minutes to go, the game was tied at 21-21 and the match was becoming increasingly tense, as both teams drew saves from their respective goalkeepers. Kitty Ottman converted a Uni penalty, but it was to go down to the wire.
Uni’s victory was in part due to the late heroics of their substitute keeper, who tipped a fierce Beckett shot over the bar and fantastically saved a penalty with her foot in the 56th minute. And after Authen danced her way through the defence to blast her shot past the Beckett keeper and establish a two point lead at 24-22, the game looked increasingly like it would belong to the Gryphons. Beckett clawed their way back to 25-24, but couldn’t respond, as Uni’s goalkeeper pulled off another dramatic save from close range before Authen charged up the court to have the last say and fire in as the final whistle went.
Featured imageː The Gryphon