On Saturday our squad took on Celtic Dragons in the Copper Box Arena in our first home pre-season matchup. Following our friendly against Loughborough Lightning earlier in the week, the players were itching to try some more of the combinations we have been working on in training and put ourselves to the test. We played six periods of ten minutes to allow players and coaches to explore multiple lineups and put our talented squad through a variety of challenges. This was the first pre-season game where our squad included Sigi Burger, Adean Thomas and our new recruit Lefebre Rademan, and these international players slotted in seamlessly with the rest of the group.
Pulse took a while to settle in the first period, and with the shooting duo of Rebekah Robinson and Amy Clinton firing on all cylinders to start the game, Dragons were leading 10-6 at the break. Despite a slower start than we would have liked, the players were not deterred and with the move of Adean Thomas to centre in the second period we started to find more space in the attacking third. Our through court defensive pressure paid off, keeping Dragons to just one goal in the second term. Sigi Burger was prolific under the post, bringing the score to 19-11.
Wholesale changes for both sides in the third period saw Emma Thacker and Olivia Tchine partner in the goal circle, while Zara Everitt moved into wing defence and caused issues for the Dragons midcourt. We were able to force a few errors and crucially capitalise on the turnovers credit to the slick shooting combination of Thacker and Tchine. Workhorse Lindsay Keable put in a shift in the defensive end and her impenetrable defence kept Dragons to just two goals in this term. Pulse dominated, with the different combinations working nicely, and our smothering defence meant we went into half time with a 19 goal advantage.
With more combinations on display in the fourth term, the two sides battled it out and showed no signs of tiring. Lucy Howells shone defensively for Dragons and created opportunities for her side, while Isabel Stibbs slotted into wing defence for Pulse with ease. In wing attack, Kira Rothwell showed fantastic vision into the circle and her pinpoint feeds found the shooters under the post. Another strong quarter from Pulse, led by Halimat Adio out at goal defence, saw us extend our lead to 43-16 at the end of the fourth period.
Dragons put out another new shooting combination for the fifth term, with Amy Clinton and Laura Rudland combining well in the goal circle. Ellie Rattu came into her own in this period, dominating the goal defence position and bringing the ball down through court at speed, with Ashleigh Dekker supporting in centre. With Monique Thompson feeding Burger and Rothwell, Pulse’s attack end was humming and finding flow, winning the term 11-7.
The final period saw Rademan slot into goal attack and carve up the attacking end with clear cuts and drives, while Everitt and Keable provided plenty of turnover ball in defence. Michelle Drayne displayed her trademark level-headedness at centre and stole an intercept in the final minute to push the score out to 66 goals to the Dragons 30.
Both this game and our game against Loughborough Lightning are available to view in the Members Area, with Digital Memberships starting at just £10 for the season. A huge thank you to Celtic Dragons players and staff for making this pre-season friendly possible.
—- Authored by Lucy Pollock