LEEDS korfball first team has successfully avoided the first obstacle in their quest to reach the first tier of BUCS Nationals this year. Leeds hosted teams from Sheffield University, Sheffield Hallam and Leeds Beckett in order to determine who would qualify for Regionals next February.
In the first match of the day, Leeds 2nds played exceptionally well against a strong Sheffield 1sts, especially considering that three of their team had only started playing in September. The match was level at 2-2 after a penalty from Ed Mort and a great long shot from Meli Stanley. However, Sheffield’s qualities eventually shone through, as they claimed a hard-fought 4-2 win.
Leeds 2nds continued their good form into their second match where they won 1-0 against a useful Hallam 2nds. The solitary goal from Matt Hadfield meant that if Leeds could beat Beckett in their final group game they would, against the odds, qualify for the next round
Unfortunately, the pressure seemed to get the better of the 2nds as they conceded three penalties, all of which Beckett scored, and missed two penalties themselves to lose 3-0. The result meant Leeds 2nds will play in the third tier of Nationals in April. They did at least finish the day on a high, as they beat Sheffield 3s 3-2 with Maddy Chant scoring two and Joe Atherton scoring his first ever goal to finish the day in 7th place. The final position of the 2nds exemplifies the harsh nature of the tournament as they were only one win away from qualifying earlier on in the day.
Leeds 1sts started the day against their toughest group opponents, Hallam 1sts, who are in the league above. Leeds got off to the perfect start as skipper Luke Hawthorne put them up early on with a long shot. Despite the Gryphons dominating the chances for the remainder of the match, Hallam managed to level it at 2-2 before the final whistle. The result meant Leeds’ destiny was still in their hands but by no means certain.
Sheffield 3rds were next and Leeds wasted no time in asserting their superiority. Directly from the start, Rachel Muir and Jake Cooke combined beautifully to take advantage of a lackadaisical Sheffield defence, allowing Cooke to easily score. Leeds didn’t look back as they strolled to a 6-1 win with Muir (2), Cooke, Taylor, Hawthorne and Matt Norman all on the scoresheet.
Leeds maintained their intensity to canter to a 4-1 victory over Sheffield 2nds after Norman, Taylor, Hawthorne and Jess Michie picked up the goals. The win meant that Leeds would finish 2nd in the group after Hallam scored a last-minute goal in their last game to finish top of the group on goal difference.
Having successfully qualified for the next round, Leeds 1sts was now looking to come out on top for the day. Unfortunately, a disorganised performance against Sheffield meant they missed out 6-4 despite two goals each from Muir and Cooke. Fatigue then played a major part in Leeds’ final match as they lost to Hallam 1sts to finish fourth on the day. Regardless of the final two losses in the day, Leeds still achieved their goal of qualifying for Regionals, the most important part of the event.
The top teams from each of the four universities all qualified and will meet the top four teams from the Midlands region next February. Finally, special congratulations to Leeds’ own Lauren Taylor and Rachel Muir who were named most valuable female player and top female goal scorer of the day respectively, both fantastic achievements.
Featured image: Matthew Norman