A stunning midcourt display from young England Roses squad member Gabby Marshall gave Mavericks the second half push they needed to overcome a stern challenge from Team Northumbria and steal a well-deserved 18-goal away victory.
In a high-scoring game, with plenty of emerging national talent on display, it was Mavericks new recruit Marshall, having moved from Manchester Thunder at the start of this season, who made the difference with an electric second half performance.
For those with no particular affiliation to either side, the game gave spectators the opportunity to familiarise themselves with some of the country’s leading young players who will surely be claiming national honours in the very near future.
Starting line ups
Changes: Q2 GD Anderson, WD Thomas Q4 WD Hollingworth, GK Anderson, GD Kindred, GA Hankin then Moala
WA S Corbin
Changes: Q2 GA McCollin, Q3 GK Quashie
After an eight-hour journey to the match venue, with warm ups undertaken in the cold air at the side of the road alongside their broken down coach, Mavericks were understandably disjointed at the start of the game.
It was the young Northumbria front line of Chiara Semple and Tamsin Moala that got the scoreboard moving. After a couple of seasons together, the two young shooters have now established a strong understanding. Their rotational play had Mavericks’ defenders Summer Artman and Lindsay Keable seemingly flat footed, with look away passes and neat interchanges.
After starring for England’s 21U side at last years’ World Youth Cup, Artman has established a reputation as one to watch – she took several vital intercepts in the first quarter.
Mavericks wasted the opportunities that were created, throwing away chances with rushed passes and missed connections in midcourt. Meanwhile, Moala used clever draws and neat footwork to pull a lacklustre Keable out of position, releasing Semple in space under the post.
Neither side was able to establish a definitive break in the second quarter – Mavericks tried a box zone through the defensive third, but again the Northumbria frontline were able to outwit them.
Midway through the quarter, Mavericks replaced Alice Travis with Kalifa McCollin at GA and it looked as though the visitors were starting to ease ahead, after a run of three goals inspired by the Caribbean star. But Northumbria’s determination held, and with Semple scoring three of her own, and Australian Toni Anderson shutting down McCollin’s best efforts.
Both coaches shuffled their packs for the start of the second half, but it was Mavericks who emerged from the break more settled. Marshall started to dominate the midcourt, and combined effectively with her England 21U team mates Quashie and Everitt to shut down the home side’s attacking options.
Marshall’s increased work rate drew greater attention from the Northumbria defence, giving Mavericks WA Sasha Corbin more space in which to drive – Corbin attacked the ball and created many shooting opportunities with pinpoint feeds. Errors had crept into the Northumbria game and Mavericks drew away to lead by 11 at the final interval.
The momentum was firmly with Mavericks in the last quarter, scoring seven goals without response at one stage. The Northumbria frontline seemed to stall, with Lisa Bowman’s static game giving Quashie more time to disrupt.
McCollin gave the visitors’ frontline purpose and mobility and her definite moves towards the ball created more space for the baseline pop pass to Karyn Bailey under the post. The Mavericks win was just reward for a team which overcame its initial sluggishness to find some connections and form, but Northumbria will rue a game which got away.
The only other game completed in Round 5 was the Wasps win over Loughborough Lightning 60-49, after a stunning opening term. The remaining matches will be rescheduled due to bad weather.
Lightning got over Surrey Storm 53-51 in a thriller, scoring the last three goals in the final minute of the game, to open Round 6.
Mavericks 71 def Team Northumbria 53
(15-15, 32-32, 53-42, 71-53)
Player of the match: Gabby Marshall (Mavericks)
Bailey 56/61 92%
McCollin 13/17 76%
Travis 2/3 66%
Semple 24/29 83%
Moala 13/17 76%
Bowman 16/21 76%