London Pulse U15 – National Academies Tournament Champions 2023

By Brogan Bostock

On the morning of Friday 25th August, the London Pulse U15 squad made their way to Wolverhampton for the National Academies Competition.  The air was filled with excitement as the squad met for an early lunch.

The London Pulse U15 squad were very well prepared for the weekend ahead after having trained hard for the past few months.

London Pulse arrived at the University at 2.30pm for one last light session before heading into an Education session with Ellie Rattu and Max Haskell who is the England Netball Performance Nutritionist.

On Friday evening our Team Manager cooked a tasty dinner and the athletes and staff exchanged good luck and thank you gifts followed by some fun games which involved a lot of laughter.  We also watched some footage from our families and were hugely embarrassed by some photos our parents had sent… it was time to focus on the task ahead of us.  We all went to bed at a sensible time with one thought on our minds….tomorrow was game day!

Saturday 26th August

We all slept well and went to enjoy a breakfast of avocado on toast with poached eggs. Following breakfast, we changed into our kit and made our way to the sports hall for activations and warm up.

To kick off the weekend, Pulse had two morning matches that would determine their opponents for the afternoon. Their first challenge was against Seven Stars. Pulse had set their sights on starting the weekend strong, and they certainly achieved that goal. The starting line-up consisted of Coco as GS, Ella C as GA, Daisy as WA, Brogan at C, Katie as WD, Ella BB as GD, and Zaneya as GK, displaying strong determination from the very start. Coco’s successful opening shot and Ella BB’s impressive flying intercept helped Pulse to secure the initial quarter with a score of 7-1. Despite a strong lead at the beginning of the second quarter, this didn’t stop Pulse from starting the quarter at where they finished off. The same 7 on court remained and maintained immense pressure throughout the entire court resulting in a lead of 16-2 to Pulse at half time. Alette took the C position and Holly joined as WD to start the third quarter. The defence gained numerous turnovers finishing the quarter with a score of 26-7 in Pulse’s favour. In the final quarter, Sophie took the GA position, Ashley stepped in as WA and Tash played GK. Zaneya and Tash took strong rebounds in the quarter and Sophie continued the strong shooting. The final score saw a win for Pulse with a score of 34-11.

Pulse’s second match was against Central Warriors, a win we aimed for to secure the best position possible for the afternoon games. They began with the same starting line-up as the previous game. A tip from Brogan allowed Pulse to score the first goal. The attacking unit applied tight pressure, leading to Warriors getting a held ball and Ella C scoring her first goal of the game after running a strong drive into the circle. The first quarter finished with Pulse leading 8-4. Alette joined the game as WD, contributing to more turnovers that Daisy helped convert into goals by helping to settle and control the attack. By half time, the score was 15-8 in Pulse’s favour. Their consistent work rate carried into the third quarter with the score being 23-9 at the end of the quarter to Pulse. In the fourth quarter, the seven on court was changed, with Tash as GS, Ashley as WA, Daisy at C, Ella BB as WD, and Holly as GD. Strong feeds into the circle from Ashley to Tash, contributed to Pulse’s win with a final score of 35-13.

Securing the top spot in their group, Pulse would now face Team Bath and Wales in the afternoon, determining the positions they could play for the next day. Their initial challenge was against Bath, and they maintained the same starting line-up. Although Bath had the first centre pass, this didn’t stop Zaneya from getting the first intercept. Pulse attack started the game slightly unsettled although they changed this quickly winning the quarter 6-4. The same seven continued the same determination and speed of play throughout the second quarter although they maintained the same lead at half time, with the score being 13-11 to Pulse. Alette took the C position and Brogan shifted to WD, both tightly markings their opponents with the help of Ella BB which allowed Zaneya to make a huge flying intercept. Strong efforts from both ends throughout the third quarter saw Pulse lead 20-16. In the final quarter, Alette moved to WD and Brogan moved back to C. Daisy’s accurate feeds and Coco’s consistently high standard shooting enabled Pulse to secure a 28-21 win in the game.

Pulse’s final match on Saturday saw them face Wales which was a crucial game they needed to win to secure a spot in the semi-final the next day. The starting line-up included Coco as GS, Sophie as GA, Ashley as WA, Daisy at C, Holly as WD, Katie as GD and Zaneya as GK. Sophie took on a strong baseline drive and a precise feed from Daisy enabled Sophie to successfully score Pulse’s opening goal. Ashley demonstrated strong commitment not only in attack but also in defence, winning an interception on one of Wales’ centre passes. The first quarter ended with Pulse leading 8-5. In the second quarter, Tash came on as GS, Brogan took the C position and Ella BB took the GD position. The team worked together effectively, resulting in Pulse leading 17-10 by half time. Daisy returned as WA, Alette played at C and Katie returned as GD, applying lots of pressure that led to Pulse finishing the quarter winning 24-12. In the final quarter, Tash moved to the other end at GK, enabling Coco to play GS and Ashley re-joined as WA. Tash gained an amazing intercept, followed by a powerful outlet pass from Holly. The game ended with a score 36-20 in favour of Pulse securing their position in the semi-final against Manchester Thunder.

Sunday 27th August

After a well deserved evening of rest, Pulse woke up refreshed and fully prepared to take on Manchester Thunder. The starting line-up for the game included Coco at GS, Ella C as GA, Daisy as WA, Brogan at C, Katie as WD, Ella BB as GD, and Zaneya as GK. They were well aware of the hard work ahead of them. Despite losing possession on their first centre pass to goal, Pulse managed to regain possession displaying great skill as they transitioned through the court with remarkable speed and Coco getting her first shot of the game. Capitalising on an attacking contact from Thunder, Ella C took on a great baseline drive allowing her to have her first shot of the game. Both shooters worked well together making it clear for Brogan and Daisy where they wanted the ball. At the end of the first quarter the score was 7-6 to Pulse.

Moving into the second quarter, Alette took over at WD, maintaining the same work rate as Katie in the quarter before. At half time, the score was 17-16, with Pulse having the slight lead. The same seven remained on the court for the third quarter. Daisy and Brogan continued their quick ball movement and drives until there was a clear opportunity to pass into the shooters. The defence continued to work hard, with Zaneya once again getting a remarkable interception. Pulse entered the fourth quarter with a 26-22 lead. With the same seven committed to maintaining their work rate, Pulse approached the final 8 minutes of the game with strong determination. Ella BB secured yet another flying interception, followed shortly by Alette with one on the circle edge. As the game finished. Pulse won with a score of 32-27 securing their spot in the final.

Pulse experienced a mixture of nerves and excitement for the final against Surrey Storm. While some of the girls had been in the previous year’s final, they were determined to secure the gold this time round. The same starting line-up took the court, and Pulse got their first goal 16 seconds into the game. On the centre pass, Katie and Ella BB tightly marked their opponents forcing Storm to pass backwards. The defence’s intense pressure led to an error by Storm, resulting in Coco getting her second goal. Brogan’s interception further extended Pulses’ lead to three goals. The relentless effort carried through the first quarter, finishing 8-1 to Pulse. An injury to Daisy as WA saw Alette enter into the game. Zaneya’s tight tracking led to an attacking contact by Storm, and Ella BB’s interception further helped Pulse’s lead with the score reaching 13-6 at half time. Katie continued to work hard getting a tip around the circle edge and Zaneya following it. Ella BB continued her strong performance getting more interceptions and providing the attack with additional opportunities, overcoming a slightly unsettled start to the quarter. The third quarter ended with Pulse leading 18-11. Pulse maintained their seven for the final quarter, putting in hard work until the very last minute. The attack continued their hard efforts with Ella C and Coco still shooting consistently. The final score was 24-17 to Pulse.

LONDON PULSE WERE THE CHAMPIONS! The girls took immense pride in their collective and hard work across the entire weekend and season’s training. We are thankful to our Coaches, Kiana Stagg, Rhianne Griffiths and Sam Bird for their invaluable guidance and strategic input that contributed to their victory, and to Julie Cridland our Team Manager who is forever helping, assisting, communicating and cooking for us and always ensuring we look the smartest. Lastly to our Physiotherapists Tom Astley and Laura Fornoni for looking after us so well and making sure our bodies stayed in the best condition….We couldn’t have won the Gold medal without you all!  

We want to say a thank you to Surrey Storm for such a well contested final, we would also like to extend our appreciation to the fabulous umpires Jenna Adamson and Kathryn Slater.  Lastly to all the Table Officials and the England Netball Staff who worked tirelessly to make this event happen.  Not forgetting all our incredible parents for their ongoing support and the loudest cheering they are by far the best supporters!