Sports Editor Laurence-Elliot Key rounds up what was a closely contested first day in London Varsity 2023.
With all the talking from both sides finished, it was now time for KCL to face their rivals, UCL, to decide who will win the London Varsity Series 2023. Thursday saw the matches of both GKT and KCL netball teams, who played their counterparts from UCL at CitySport in two highly anticipated netball matches. Leading the correspondent team was Elizabeth Grace, with help from KCL Radio’s Benjamin Birns and colleagues from @kclsu. There was also action from Ultimate Frisbee and Pole Fitness.
GKT Netball (@kingsnetball_gkt)
GKT took the early lead, scoring within the first minute of play, and were able to maintain that lead throughout the rest of the match. By the end of the first quarter, GKT had a 5-point lead, with the score 16-11 to GKT. RUMS kept the pressure on through the second half, but GKT were able to keep a fast pace and kept the ball moving to create space and opportunities to score. At the halfway point, the score was 27-21 to GKT. As GKT were leading the match, it provided the momentum needed in the second half to keep it up, and thus allowed them to extend to a ten-point lead at times.
RUMS were able to draw back near the end but it was too little too late as the final score was 50-41 to GKT, and so securing the first point of the Varsity series for King’s. Special mentions must go to Hermione (GA), Cleo (GS), and Victoria (GK), as well as player of the match Sophia (C), who was superb. An honourable mention goes to the best line from the crowd, which was ”RUMS, isn’t that like alcohol? Rum and coke?”
KCL Netball (@kclnetball)
The UCL team were dominant, controlled the game from the start and were never under threat by KCL. After the first quarter the score was 11-3 to UCL. It felt like there was still hope for KCL however UCL kept up a forwards press, playing high to apply the pressure, keeping the ball moving fast to open up space and create opportunities that the KCL defence couldn’t recover from. This allowed openings to be made for the very tall UCL Goal Shooter to keep scoring.
At the halfway point it seemed bleak, with UCL leading 29-10. However, in the third quarter of play the teams equalised, with KCL beginning to take some control and force errors in the UCL side to open up the chances. They played a much better game to maintain the gap and it became almost tit-for-tat with goals ending the third quarter at 40-21 to UCL.
In the final quarter, KCL came into it with the same attitude, and one of KCL’s Goal Shooters really started to build up a tally on the scoresheet. However the fatigue began to set in, allowing UCL to capitalise on the momentum of their lead leaving the final score: UCL 56-32 KCL. KCL’s captain Sarah, who plays internationally for Northern Ireland, said that UCL had showed their experience and leadership and that they had expected this match to go a lot better than it had, but it had given them a lot to work on and improve.
Ultimate Frisbee (@kclfrisbeee)
This match started off with KCL losing the coin toss, which left them starting downwind on defence. The very windy conditions meant that this was a scrappy game with lots of turnovers from both teams. UCL scored a quick huck to put them 1-0 up, but this was followed up by a very messy point that KCL managed to win to tie the game at 1-1. The game continued in this fashion, but KCL managed a lead at half time with 4-3. The second half was no different and this lead to the time half cap going at 35 minutes.
King’s started the second half on offence playing downwind, and after a strong start were up 6-3. However, UCL strung together multiple breaks and managed to take the lead for the first time in the match, going 8-7 up. The drama in this incredibly tense match was not over as just before the soft time cap elapsed, King’s equalised meaning the game was a race to 10. UCL then answered back with a quick point, taking the score to 9-8 and one score away from victory for them. At this point, both teams had chances to score (for UCL to finish the match) but it was King’s who equalised, making the game turn to universal point time. UCL had the first attempt to win the game but they failed to do so, and on the following possession by King’s and a slightly risky throw from Noa to Madeleine, King’s won 10-9.
Pole Fitness (@kclpole)
I was only able to watch the Freestyle and Group acts of this event as I had previous commitments, but if this was the standard of the team at large I was seriously impressed. For those of you who are not aware of what this sport is, it’s where Strictly Come Dancing is mixed with poles. This sport requires strength, power, and grace rolled in one. The two acts I saw where superb examples of this. Emma Horner, the Freestyle Act, told me after speaking to her proud mother that she had sporting heritage running through her bones as she had represented Richmond in fencing, University of Durham as a boxer, and after only five months was at intermediate level for Pole Fitness. That’s not the end either – one of her family members was the British Champion in arm wrestling for 10 years.
The Group act, which was the combined efforts of Renee Gitsaki-Taylor, Dexter G and Kristina Kerr (the only team from KCL Pole to medal in a recent competition in February), did the bravest thing of stopping their performance of their interpretive dance of Black Swan because one of the poles was not not spinning. Once they restarted, they produced one of the most unified performances of the whole competition. The competition itself was split into five categories (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Freestyle and Group), and despite UCL winning in all five categories, KCL athletes did superb and they should all be proud of their efforts. I am sure the wider KCL community are too.
After Day One, the overall score stands at KCL 2-2 UCL. On Friday, we will see Weightlifting/Powerlifting, Table Tennis, and Tennis. Live coverage will be coming from GKT Hockey at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and KCL Football at Haringey Borough Football Club.
Thanks must be given to Benjamin Birns and @kclfrisbeee for their help with this article.
To capture this year’s Varsity, Roar News and KCL Radio will be joining forces to bring you exclusive coverage of the London Varsity Series 2023 every day. Roar News will be publishing daily competition roundups on our website, match interviews and highlights on our Instagram (@roar.news) and YouTube (Roar News), and game liveblogs on our Twitter (@roar_news). Follow us on social media and keep an eye on our website for the latest updates on how KCLSU Sports are faring against our rivals from Bloomsbury. Tune into KCL Radio’s sports podcast for interviews, commentary and analysis on key matches between King’s and UCL too. The coverage team is led by Sports Editor Laurence-Elliot Key (@laurenceelliotkey), Radio Station Manager Ali Gibson (@ali_3g), and Varsity Correspondent Elizabeth Grace (@blehitsliz). #londonisred #bleedred