Follow along: England U21s at Europe Netball

Taking place from 6-8 October at the English Institute of Sport, England will take on Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales for the Europe Netball title. Follow along with all the England U21s action in our blog below, with game day coverage available on twitter and the full match available to watch on the Europe Netball YouTube channel.

Game 3: Coach’s thoughts

Head Coach, Leah Kennedy saw her young England team through to victory yesterday as they were crowned champions of the U21 Europe Netball competition.

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The squad had to work hard for their victory in the final match against Scotland, however their control and consistency throughout helped secure the win. After the match, Leah said: “Scotland really brought it to us then, but it’s been such a pleasure to have coached these girls and I’m so proud that they grinded out that win.

“To have not been together as a group for long and to come into that final match and show resilience was really impressive.”

It was a whole team effort from Kennedy’s side yesterday, and when commenting on her substitutions, Kennedy said: “it was us having faith in everyone on the bench. We selected a squad knowing that every single athlete that stepped out on court, in any combination, could make a real impact, and they all really did.”

Player of the Match: Marlene Lange

England U21 Goal Keeper, Marlene Lange, had a fantastic game in their final match against Scotland and was named Player of the Match.

Lange put out a series of game-changing interceptions throughout the match and, commenting on her performance, said: “I just had to get my eye in at the beginning; you’ve got to see how deep they’re going to go and get the timing right. I think we grew into the game as a team.”

The Goal Keeper also played the full 60 minutes, paying testament to how consistent her performance was for England. She said: “I’m really glad that Leah and the coaches had the faith in me to see out the game, obviously these are my first three England U21 caps, so yeah I’m really happy with my performance.”

Game 3: England vs Scotland (8 October)

England’s key moments in the game

Starting 7: Marlene Lange (GK), Darcie Everitt (GD), Phoebe Maslen (WD), Izzy Kaye (C), Lydia Harrison (WA), Harriet Jones (GA), Freya Henshall (GS).

Substitutes: Sophie Kelly, Alanna Pullen, Jade Popoola, Daisy Harrison, Anya Williams.

Quarter 1:

England U21s started the game off in front of a crowd ready to be entertained. Despite Scottish pressure from the off, Marlene Lange came in with the early tip to put England two goals ahead.

Brilliant full-court pressure saw Harriet Jones tip the ball, which was picked up by Phoebe Maslen. The captain then, with pinpoint accuracy, fired the ball into Freya Henshall from the third line. In the first four and half minutes of play, England scored a run of five unanswered goals.

The attack found their flow with incredible ball speed from Lydia Harrison and Izzy Kaye, complemented by quick thinking from Jones who popped the ball over to Henshall’s baseline drive, seeing Henshall notch another up for England U21s.

In the final five minutes of the quarter both sides were battling for possession, with Scotland closing the gap to within two. England soon put their foot down, driving hard to stop the Scottish attack. Harrison fired the ball into the circle with brilliant accuracy to extend the scoreline back out to six. Keeping the pressure on, England ended the quarter ahead, 16-8.

Quarter 2:

Sophie Kelly entered the court at GA. Strong defensive pressure saw Scotland battle back in the first five minutes to within two. Despite a lost ball in the shooting end, Izzy Kaye flew in with an incredible aerial interception to keep England ahead. Kelly also made a fantastic interception from the sideline, and with a quick one-two to play herself into the circle then converted to goal.

Defensive pressure continued to characterise England’s performance as Maslen worked hard around the circle edge to turn over a crucial ball for England, converted by the cool-headed Kelly from range. Lange turned the screw as England looked to extend their lead with a well-hunted interception on the feed. England went ahead by six.

Harrison only had eyes for goal as she fed an incredible ball to holding Henshall from the third line. 30-22 to England at the end of the first half.

Quarter 3:

Vice-captain Jade Popoola entered the court at GD, with immediate impact, limiting the space for the shooters as she forced a turnover from Kaye on the circle edge. The opening five minutes of the quarter continued at a frenetic pace with strong defensive pressure from both sides forcing turnovers on the attack.

Henshall and Kelly continued to play a fantastic rotating circle, with Kelly drawing the defence out leaving Henshall home alone. A well-timed tip from Lange and fantastic strength on the take from Harrison saw the crowd lift and momentum start to shift, with England’s U21s extended their lead to 10 with just over five minutes to play.

Head Coach Leah Kennedy made more changes before the final break bringing Anya Williams to GA, Jones to GS and Alanna Pullen to WA. Scotland continued a tenacious run to close the gap to just six. But with one minute to play Lange made a huge interception to crucially turn the ball. Williams battled in the air to take the ball, offloading to Jones, who, cool under pressure, converted the final shot of the quarter with just seconds left on the clock. England stayed ahead 39–33 going into the final 15 minutes.

Quarter 4:

Some changes in the defensive end saw Popoola move to WD, Maslen to C and Daisy Harrison enter the game at GD. The defensive unit immediately worked well together with Popoola chasing the ball down to turn the possession in England’s favour and keep them ahead by six.

With nine minutes to play brilliant strength from Lange on the rebound saw England fly down the court, with Popoola feeding a lightning-quick ball to Williams in the circle from the third line. Ball speed continued to characterise this quarter, with excellent vision from both Pullen and Maslen to feed the rotating circle of Williams and Jones and bring up the 50 for England.

Pushing all the way to the end the young Roses extended their lead as they played with confidence and flow in the attack. Full-court pressure saw Harrison make a flying interception to turn the ball for the Roses in the closing stages of the game. England’s U21s secured the win 54-43.

Game 2: Coach’s thoughts

Head Coach, Leah Kennedy has now gone two from two at the U21s Europe Netball competition, securing a pivotal win against Wales (44-63).

In the first half, Wales managed to generate momentum in their game, however, as the game progressed, England were clinical in shutting down their attack and would regularly put a series of goals up in quick succession.

Speaking on their focus and ability to push quickly, Kennedy said: “We ask them to really think about their runs, and once we’ve converted a turn over, it’s up to us to then be disciplined to convert our centre passes. I think they showed some really great moments of that in this game, and it will be something we’re going to look for over the remainder of the weekend”.

Commenting on their final match against Scotland, Kennedy said:

“We’re definitely looking forward to that game. We know a Scotland verses England game is always a great one, and we know, physicality-wise, they’ll come at us, so the girls are ready to tidy up our game and make the improvements.”

Player of the Match: Izzy Kaye

England U21s midcourter, Izzy Kaye, put out a stellar performance against Wales and won the Player of the Match award.

When speaking on the win, Kaye said: “I’m really pleased. We talked about tactics before the game and how we were going to implement them.

“We knew it would be a tough game, Wales always bring it, so it was just a matter of sticking to our game plan and I think we did that today”.

Kaye executed some impressive one-handed catches throughout the game, which impressed the crowd. Modestly, Kaye said: “I’ve got quite long arms so maybe that helps!”

On facing Scotland tomorrow in their final match of the tournament, the midcourter commented on how they were going to prepare: “I think going into it the same way we did today, I think if we stick to the game plan, it will be a good game”.

Game 2: Wales vs England (7 October)

England’s key moments in the game

Starting 7: Marlene Lange (GK), Daisy Harrison (GD), Izzy Kaye (WD), Phoebe Maslen (C), Alanna Pullen (WA), Sophie Kelly (GA), Anya Williams (GS)

Substitutes: Freya Henshall, Harriet Jones, Lydia Harrison, Jade Popoola, Darcie Everitt

Quarter 1:

The match started at a fast pace, opening with a quick goal to England. Alanna Pullen made an early interception; though called out of court, Pullen bounced back to make another fantastic interception in the next play, which was taken to goal by Kelly.

Phoebe Maslen forced the turnover but tenacity from Wales saw them pull it back to level in the early stages. Daisy Harrison hunted for a brilliant interception which was converted by Williams, starting a run of three unanswered goals from range to carve a three-goal lead for England.

A brilliantly timed interception from Marlene Lange with 30 seconds to play proved crucial for England, as they took the ball to goal. In the dying seconds of the quarter, Lange made yet another crucial interception which was fired into Anya Williams who bought the score up to 10-15 to England in the final play of the quarter.

Quarter 2:

The second quarter saw a shift in the midcourt, with Jade Popoola entering the game at WD and Lydia Harrison coming on to WA. Daisy Harrison and Lange found immediate defensive success, confusing the space which helped Popoola to make a fantastic tip on the circle edge.

The crowd lifted as Wales battled back to narrow the gap to within four. Impressive vision from Maslen complemented Anya Williams’ baseline drives, creating some brilliant attacking flow.

In the final three minutes of the quarter, Darcie Everitt chased down the ball and kept it in court with an incredible athletic effort, keeping Wales’s charge at bay. Lange was also impressive in defence, making a vertical interception and displaying great core strength to deny Wales going into half time. 32 – 24 to England at the break.

Quarter 3: 

Izzy Kaye returned to court in the centre position, alongside Harriet Jones entering at GA. England started the quarter strong, with Lydia Harrison and Kaye punching through some impressive Welsh defence to find Jones and Williams, extending England’s lead in the first six minutes to an 11-goal difference.

Great vision across the court saw Everitt find Williams in the circle from the third line. Despite a few unforced errors, confident shooting from both Williams and Jones kept the score within 10.

In the last 15 seconds of the quarter, an incredible run down the court with quick thinking from Everitt to Popoola saw Lydia Harrison deliver a bullet ball from the third line into Williams, who scored quickly. England ended the quarter out in front, 34-46.

Quarter 4: 

In the final quarter, Freya Henshall entered the game at GS. Pinpoint accuracy from Lydia Harrison in to Henshall with a bounce pass around the defender helped Henshall find the post and bring 50 up for England.

Kaye played a key role in the middle to move the ball through the court to feed both Jones and Henshall with precision and speed, seeing England pull ahead 40-57.

With five minutes to play, yet another characteristic flying interception from Lange helped to boost England. Strength and tenacity were shown from vice-captain Popoola to tussle for the ball and help bring up 60 for England. Final score 44-63 to England.

Game 2: Warm-ups complete

Game 2: Getting game ready

The England U21s are ready for their game against Wales, starting in less than one hour.

Day 2: Team time

Our England U21s have been on a walk this morning as part of their recovery and to spend time together as a team. This afternoon they continue their preparations for their game vs Wales this evening at 5pm. Watch live on the Europe Netball YouTube channel.

Game 1: Coach’s thoughts

Head Coach, Leah Kennedy had a great start to the U21 Europe Netball competition yesterday, seeing her fresh England side take an impressive 40 goal win over Northern Ireland (35-75).

Talking about the win, Leah said: “For all of these girls it’s their first U21 cap, so I think for them there was some nerves and excitement. But they really composed themselves through that game, and I think they did exactly what we asked of them and what they asked of each other”.

England showed their strength in the final quarter of the match and the Head Coach said: “It was really exciting to interject some of the different players through it [the match], and in that last quarter, we finally came together, gelled and connected.

“It really shows what an exciting group of athletes we’ve got coming through the system in England”.

Player of the Match: Daisy Harrison

England U21 Goal Keeper, Daisy Harrison, was named Player of the Match against Northern Ireland yesterday, gaining her first England U21s cap.

Speaking about the game, Daisy said: “It was such a great game and obviously my first game with England, getting my first cap. So it was an amazing experience to remember.”

Achieving a total of 15 gains across the match, Daisy said her tip for defensive success is: “you’ve just got to keep your head up, read the game and trust yourself as well – just back yourself to go for things, and nine times out of ten, you’ll get them.”

Looking ahead to the match today against Wales at 5pm, the Goal Keeper said “I think possession will be one of our main focusses going into our next game.

“I think today we were really composed and showed what we can do, so I think if we carry that on, we’ll do really well.”

Game 1: England vs Northern Ireland (6 October)

England’s key moments in the game

Starting 7: Daisy Harrison (GK), Darcie Everitt (GD), Jade Popoola (WD), Phoebe Maslen (C), Lydia Harrison (WA), Sophie Kelly (GA), Freya Henshall (GS).

Substitutes: Izzy Kaye, Marlene Lange, Anya Williams, Harriet Jones, Alanna Pullen.

Quarter 1:

Some early nerves in the opening minutes from England but the team quickly found their stride. A great defensive start was had by both Darcie Everitt and Daisy Harrison, who connected well together, producing some great intercepts and turnovers in the first quarter.

England soon found their rhythm, with nice link ups between the mid court and the shooting circle, notably from Sophie Kelly and Phoebe Maslen, who also play together at the Netball Super League’s Team Bath. At the seven minute mark, England began to pull away with confident shooting from Kelly and Henshall. As the quarter came to a close, Northern Ireland scored a penalty shot on the buzzer to end the quarter 17-8.

Quarter 2:

Starting the second quarter, Alanna Pullen came on to WA. England started the second quarter with the same intensity as they ended the first but some errors saw Northern Ireland fight back to bring the score line to 21-14 after the first five minutes of play. Some brilliant ball speed and vision from Pullen on the feed saw England however push on.

A well read interception from Daisy Harrison saw the young Roses fly down the court. This was then turned over again by Northern Ireland but captain Phoebe Maslen stole the ball back, which was in turn converted by Henshall.

Jade Popoola took to the bench, with Izzy Kaye coming on at WD. Daisy Harrison continued a dominant performance in the defensive circle with yet another well timed tip on the Northern Ireland shot. This was swiftly followed by a brilliant aerial interception from Darcie Everitt. Northern Ireland battled back in the latter stages of the final five minutes to end the first half 31-21, with the crowd enjoying the on court rivalry.

Quarter 3:

Quarter three saw a defensive shift, with Harrison moving out to GD, Marlene Lange coming on a GK and Anya Williams taking to court in the GS position.

At the seven minute mark in the quarter, Harriet Jones entered the game at GA. A brilliant one handed interception from Kaye was met with speed to bring the ball down the court quickly and to goal. Lange made another impressive interception and both Jones and Williams continued to look comfortable on the shot.

In the final minute of the quarter, defensive pressure from Harrison and Lange forced the turnover. This was complimented by Maslen’s lightning quick speed moving the ball through the middle third in just one pass, culminating in brilliant shooter to shooter connection to notch another up. The quarter ended 52-30.

Quarter 4:

In the final quarter, vice-captain Jade Popoola returned to court at WD, making an immediate impact tracking the ball and creating an excellent turnover. Kaye moved into the centre position and was effective at hunting the ball defensively.

Brilliant elevation from Lange to take a turnover and more defensive pressure forced the held ball just after the five minute mark in the quarter. The defensive unit continued to work hard, with tenacity to tip and chase down the ball as England drove towards the 70 goal mark. With strong connections through to the end, the young Roses finished the game 75-35.

Captain’s Preview

12 bright prospects will play in the iconic red dress at the English Institute of Sport between 6-8 Oct. As they take to court to represent England, many players will be in line for their first international experience. We caught up with captain Phoebe Maslen and vice-captain Jade Popoola to talk about their netball journey and look to the competition ahead.

Read the full preview here. 

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