The players of De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU)’s third team netballers secured title success this season, but by the tightest of margins.
A final-day victory away at Anglia Ruskin (Peterborough) thirds was enough to pip rivals Anglia Ruskin (Cambridge) seconds to top-spot, but only by virtue of a better head-to-head goal record.
DMU’s 39-14 win left them tied with Ruskin on 21 points but, having scored 46 nets compared to Ruskin’s 41 in the two games between the sides, it meant silverware was on its way to Leicester.
Keira Rounsley, VP Welfare and Community at DSU, was a member of the league-winning team, and said that the victory and subsequent promotion had been a long time coming.
And, after an opening-day defeat, it appeared that glory would elude the thirds for another year.
She said: “After only training with each other as a team for two training sessions, we had our first British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) match in sight – away, so the pressure was on.
“Unfortunately we lost to Anglia Ruskin seconds 21-16. However, from then on, we went on to win all of our games.
“DMU Netball thirds have been in the same league for God knows how long, and we’ve finally been promoted!”
Despite the setback of losing their first game, Keira said that as the season wore on the team’s performances changed dramatically, as evidenced by their results.
She said: “As the season went on every player was improving, and I think that just showed in our results.
“We played Bedfordshire fourths at the very beginning of the season and scraped a win by just five goals, but when we played them again in our second to last game we had our biggest win of the season, winning 57-5.
“We couldn’t believe it, and our performance is what led us to be nominated for Team of the Year at this year’s Colours Awards.
“I honestly believe it wasn’t just down to our hard work and dedication that got us our league title, but down to our team spirit and friendship. Cringe, I know, but true!”
After a long season of hard-work and endeavour, it ultimately boiled down to the final game of the year to decide the destination of the league title.
“We had to win our last game of the season to take the title so the pressure was on,” said Keira.
“We’d beaten them before 38-16, so we were feeling confident that we’d win, but we needed a larger goal difference to be comfortable that we’d get it.
“However, Bridgette, third team captain, and I, didn’t want the team to get complacent.
“It was between us an Anglia Ruskin seconds for the title, and the same day they were playing Bedfordshire fourths.
“Not realising until a couple of hours before the game, it wasn’t on overall goal difference if we won or not, it was down to who beat who with a higher goal difference in their games against each other, so our goal advantage over Anglia Ruskin seconds was five.
“So all we needed to do was win, however we didn’t tell the team that. We steamed in again, getting 11 goals in the first quarter and conceding none, and it was looking very positive.
“It wasn’t until the last quarter where we let the girls know that it didn’t matter what the Anglia Ruskin and Bedfordshire score was, we had won the league.
“We went into the last quarter absolutely buzzing we’d done it. Winning the league felt amazing. It’s fair to say celebrations were crazy that night!”
With promotion to a higher tier of the BUCS league structure, next season could be one of consolidation for the thirds, although much depends on player recruitment, according to Keira.
She said: “This is the first time in God knows how many years DMU Netball thirds have managed to get promoted into a higher league, which means next season is going to be a lot tougher.
“Nevertheless, anything is possible with hard work and dedication. Let’s see what new players we may acquire in the coming year!”