On Saturday 9th December 2017 the new look Loughborough Lightning Netball squad stepped on court in their first outing, ahead of the upcoming 2018 season.
The team, who dominated the Vitality Netball Superleague season last year, winning all but one of their matches before narrowly losing out in the Grand Final to Wasps, have managed to retain the most part of their team for the looming 2018 season, allowing the players to pick up where they left off.
Welcoming Team Northumbria to Loughborough University on a cold and snowy weekend, the girls in purple were keen to dominate the game and treat the crowds to a taste of what’s to come. And boy did they do just that!
A mixture of fan favourites, young talent and aspiring U21’s, recently appointed Head Coach Anna Carter used the entire 60 minutes to test and push the players to gain a crucial insight into those all-important key combinations. Having travelled over three hours for the fixture, the visiting side also used the match to try out new ideas and plays.
On her 18th Birthday young shooter Chloe Essam was given a start in the coveted Goal Attack bib and she did not disappoint. With her new found adult status, Essam who was recently announced in the NSL squad alongside Armstrong and Nicholls, stepped up to the line with a distinctive confidence, working seamlessly with Panagarry and Proscovia to deliver the ball into the circle and sink the ball through the net time and time again.
Down at the other end of the court, Lightning’s defence quickly adjusted to the gaps left by Trip and Gibbons. With recently capped England Roses senior Vicki Oyesola at the helm, newcomers Anya Wood and Susie Armstrong easily found their feet in the circle and applied the necessary pressure to keep Northumbria’s shooters at bay.
Recently returning from a 3 – 0 whitewash over Malawi, fellow Roses teammates Panagarry and Cobden delivered an exceptional performance in the centre court. Together with Harris, who joins the Lightning squad full time this year after signing her first ever Superleague contract, the quick footed trio ensured a smooth transition from defence to attack throughout the entirety of the game.
A hugely positive game saw Lighting come out on top, securing a 61 – 39 win over Team Northumbria.
Head Coach Anna Carter was delighted to get the win on her first outing with the side;
“I’m really pleased to give the Lightning squad a run out today along with some of our aspiring U21s. Our combinations are starting to build momentum and are looking strong. Each one of our players are eager and hungry to learn as we move towards our future preseason games in the New Year and I’m excited to see what’s in store for this squad.”
Lightning are back in action in the New Year with the hugely anticipated Battle of the Midlands tri-tournament where reigning champions Wasps and fellow midlands side Severn Stars travel to Loughborough University.
Tickets for the clash are on sale now alongside all of our February matches – so get yours now to avoid disappointment.