Northern Storm produced an impressive performance at the Women’s Super League finals day to be crowned 2018 WSLL champions.
A 10-4 victory over Surrey Jets, courtesy of a 6-0 final quarter, gave the Storm the title and a third Super League win out of four attempts.
The finals day got underway at the University of Warwick with the last of the group games, starting with a crucial winner takes all battle between the Jets and London Royals to guarantee a place in the final.
Royals started brightly racing into a 2-0 lead through Taya Jackson and Sophy Coombes-Roberts before a double for Liv Wimpenny tied the game at 2-2 at ¼ time.
The royals then began to dominate in the second quarter; two for Amy Martin and one for Anna Featherstone gave them a slight lead at the half with a single effort through Emily Gray for the Jets making it 5-3 Royals at the half.
With her side trailing by two, Jets Coach, Alex Carnegie-Brown, called for her PowerPlay in Q3 which turned out be an inspired decision.
Katie Butcher levelled the scores with the Jets’ first PP goal, and although Amy Martin then completed her hat-trick to put the Royals back ahead, two late quarter efforts turned the match on its head.
First Sophie Morrill, who finished the tournament joint top scorer with 12, and then Emily Gray, both scored in the final two minutes of the quarter to put Jets 9-6 to the good at ¾ time.
With the Royals still holding their PowerPlay, they hoped to be able to turns things around in the fourth and got off to the perfect start with Coombes-Roberts pulling her side within one.
And although Morrill got another for the Jets, when Jackson scored again to tie things up at 10-10 still with 6:00 to play, the Royals looked favourites.
However, that would be the last time the Royals would score in the contest and another goal for the prolific Morrill followed by a third for Liv Wimpenny sealed the win for Surrey Jets and a place in the Super League final while London roayls would have to settle for the 3rd/4th place match.
Surrey Jets 12-10 London Royals
Next up was Northern Storm v Warwick Mavericks, and although the Mavericks could not achieve a place in the final, the Jets’ victory and Royals’ losing bonus point meant the Storm required at least a point to make the final.
It turned out to be a fairly routine victory for the Storm, a 4-1 lead at ¼ time set them on their way with two goals for Hannah Grant and one apiece for Lucy Fowler and Eliza Watson with Laura Warren scoring for the Mavericks.
The sides shared a goal each in Q2, Ellie Walshe for the Mavericks and Grant again for Storm before both teams took their PowerPlays at the start of Q3.
The Mavericks did briefly close the gap to one at the start of the quarter courtesy of Claudia Button, but Laura Merrifield and Linzi Mills both added PowerPlay goals to make 9-4 at ¾ time.
A Storm shutout in the final quarter rounded off a solid performance ahead of the Final, Fowler and Jen Simpson completing an 11-4 win for the Storm.
Northern Storm 11-4 Warwick Mavericks
The third place play-off between London Royals and Warwick Mavericks proved to be a thrilling encounter with the lead changing hands multiple times.
The Mavericks raced into a 4-0 lead midway through the second quarter with goals from Warren, Anderson, Walshe and Thomas before an eight-goal run of their own flipped the contest in favour of the Royals.
Rosalind Baynham and Loulou Rowlands got on the scoresheet before half-time, after which, the Royals took their PowerPlay to devastating effect.
Anna Featherstone scored twice and Coombes-Roberts got their third PP goal to lead 8-4 with the final quarter to play.
Four goals down but with their PowerPlay to go, the Mavericks set about overturning the deficit with Walshe putting her side back within a score.
Laura Beaman increased the Royals lead to three before Torz Anderson stepped up to lead her team to victory, scoring two PowerPlay goals and securing third place for the Warwick Mavericks.
Warwick Mavericks 10-9 London Royals
The final between Northern Storm and Surrey Jets proved to be an absorbing encounter with both teams stacked full of international talent.
And it was favourites Storm who ran into an early lead, led by captain Laura Merrifield, who with her two goals in the final tied with Morrill for top scorer, along with efforts from Lizzie Wright and Hannah Grant to go in to the half 4-0 up.
The Jets sensed they needed to turn the tide and called for the PowerPlay in Q3, which looked to be massively paying off from the get go.
Liv Wimpenny scored just 53 seconds into the quarter to give the Jets encouragement, and when Megan Whittle, back from her goal scoring exploits at Maryland, levelled the game with only three minutes of the quarter gone, it looked like the tide may have been turning.
However, Northern Storm regrouped and solidified, managing to end the scoring there for the third quarter to set the game up perfectly at 4-4 heading into the final quarter’s action.
With their PowerPlay in the bank, coach Hoffman’s Storm had the upper hand entering the final 10 minutes.
A tense first five saw both sides scoreless as the Jets looked to hold off the Storm and nick it late on, but when Lizzie Wright found the net for the Storm, it looked an uphill battle that the Jets couldn’t recover from.
Eliza Watson added two more PowerPlay goals in the final minutes while the Jets remained scoreless in the final period, going 17 minutes without a goal after Whittle’s effort to hand Storm the title.
Northern Storm 10-4 Surrey Jets
1 – Northern Storm
2 – Surrey Jets
3 – Warwick Mavericks
4 – London Royals
12 – Laura Merrifield (Northern Storm)
12 – Sophie Morrill (Surrey Jets)
11 – Torz Anderson (Warwick Mavericks)
10 – Liv Wimpenny (Surrey Jets)
10 – Sophy Coombes-Roberts (London Royals)