Lions Women on Cloud 9
The Lions’ women set their own little bit of sporting history on Saturday as for the first time ever they suited up for a 9 v 9 full-contact, hour long game against each other – with last year’s BAFA Sapphire Series’ number one ranked offense going up against the country’s number one ranked defense – Coach Branagh’s Defense eventually took the spoils, 20 points to 18.
“I expected nothing less” said Club Captain and QB Jo Kilby with a wry grin, “…we’re having to bed in new offensive linemen and a new operating structure and with so many integral moving parts, that takes time, but credit where credit is due our Defense is tough and they took their opportunities well and what’s cool is that there’s still so potential to maximise, we’ve barely even scratched the surface yet.”
Some of the current Lions’ crop have already had some 11aside experience under their belts, courtesy of their time with the Great Britain programme (which ran throughout this summer culminating in their first game and indeed victory against Sweden in September of this year)…but this challenge was just as taxing: “we played 5 aside club football last season” offered Kilby “and whilst some of us were exposed to 11s this season, we’ve also an awful lot of rookies with us so transferring skills and knowledge in only a matter of weeks for some has proven a lot to take in, but the players, rookies and returners, have rallied brilliantly.”
So much so that the game was a nail-biter right to the end, swings in momentum allowed both teams their dominant spells but in the end the Defense were just that little bit readier to play and the scoreboard never lies.
“With a squad our size it was critical we got all our girls playing, and importantly for them, that they were able to test themselves in contact before we got to 2015”commented Kilby, “…we’ve some real big challenges coming our way, not even including trying to defend our national title so every rep we can get under pressure, being stress-tested, works for us.”
It’s a little too early yet for the Lions to be divulging their hugely exciting (but still not fully cemented plans) for January 2015 so we won’t quiz them too hard, but we can gladly offer our congratulations to the team and staff for their continued efforts to improve and challenge themselves and the sport. Equally special mentions we understand must go to:
Cornerback Nancy Stone – awarded the Defensive MVP for a consistently high performance; her picks made the difference
Half-back Ruth Matta – awarded the Offensive MVP for her tight lines and patience; scored two touchdowns to keep it close
Well done everyone.