In a closely contested match, Loughborough Lightning managed to stand strong against a London Pulse side who showed growth, grit and determination to take the game by just seven goals, 42-35.
London Pulse displayed again another much-improved performance with their young side, keeping up with Lightning for all 48 minutes but it was the experienced Lightning who took the win to book their place in the play-offs.
It was a tight first quarter as Pulse pushed Lightning to go goal to go for the first 12 minutes after a number of unforced errors from both sides. However, Lightning ensured they capitalized on turnover to take a two-goal lead at the end of the first quarter, ending 11-9.
A more dominant performance followed in the second quarter for Lightning, and it looked like they would pull away. However, with newfound confidence, Pulse kept fighting with great defensive pressure from Fumni Fadoju and Lindsay Keable in the circle stopping Mary Cholhock in her tracks. Lightning did show immense patience to continue finding route to goal though, as the first half finished 24 – 17 to the visitors as they stretched out their lead.
Pulse in the second half demonstrated that they were not down and out from this contest despite increased pressure from Lightning, keeping them to an eight-goal lead in the third quarter. Lightning stretched the lead out to 12, before turnovers and clinical attacking brought Pulse to back within 7, but the excellent work of Sam May and Beth Cobden in defense ensured Lightning maintained their lead, with the third quarter finishing 33-25.
The fourth quarter again showcased the talent within this Pulse side, not allowing Lightning to run away with the game in the final 12 minutes. Pulse’s attacking end was finding rhythm, with Liv Tchine and Kira Rothwell impressing in the circle against a tough unit. Defensively, Fadoju, in partnership with Keable and Everitt stood up to cause issues for Lightning, as the side won the final quarter, with the final score 42-35 to Lightning.
Ultimately, Lightning showed patience and experience to grind out the win, although it was not made an easy task by Pulse who are beginning to show how dangerous they are and will be in seasons to come. Fadoju stood out once again and was one of the most problematic defenders for Cholhock all season, as she missed 13 shots and had enormous pressure on her feeds.