NWLA – Women’s Premier League Preview

With the Women’s Northern Premiership due to start this weekend, Jane Brierly previews each clubs chances this season, in what has the potential of being an exciting season for women’s lacrosse in the north.

Brooklands had a pretty impressive season with wins over Stockport, Leeds. They really benefitted last year from new US goalkeeper, Megan Clothier, and a very strong set of junior players who are now having a real impact on the field. This is credit to their strong junior program, which continues to grow. This season they will be looking to progress up the rankings.

Heaton Mersey
Heaton Mersey had a great season last year, finishing 3rd in the league despite tying in points with Timperley (2nd). Heaton Mersey ladies’ team won ‘Team of the Year’ at their club presentation night which is credit to their performance. Special mentions go to Caz Evans (GK) won ‘Player of the Year’ and Natalie Woods who won ‘Player’s Player’. Their captain, Jen Abott, did a great job all season of organising her team. This coming season, new captains Ludmila Crowther and Harriet Pritchard are looking forward to furthering the team’s success.

Liverpool have had a really impressive season, a highlight from their league games was a historic win over Stockport. They also had convincing wins over Leeds and Newcastle. Liverpool have certainly stepped up their training and this paid off in the form of results last year. If they keep up the hard work no doubt they will continue to progress up the rankings, certainly a team to watch closely.

Last season was a bit of a disappointment for Leeds as they finished bottom of the league. Being only a small club, it was a really tough year for the team with various key players off on maternity. This season, Millie Pratt has handed over her captaincy to Clare Bell, which is a big change for the team who are hoping that Claire’s excellent training sessions will help them move forward and progress in the league rankings. Leeds are also excited to welcome a number of new, experienced players to their squad, meaning we can expect some fresh looking performances from them this year, so pay attention!

Mellor started last season with a relatively new looking team, with all but 4 of the squad never having played for the senior women’s teams before. Therefore, they used the season to introduce the U18 girls to the ladies league, not expecting to win many games, but more to develop as a team and learn how each other play. Mellor ended up finishing in 4th place, only one place lower than the previous season – a great finishing position considering the youth of their new team. However, this year Mellor have lost approximately 6 players to university. So they will be approaching the season with a similar attitude to last year. If they perform as impressively this year, they could surprise themselves again!

Newcastle have struggled to get their games in, being so far away from the rest of the competition. Credit must go to them for travelling such a long way for all their away games. Newcastle’s most impressive performance this year must have been their win over Leeds towards the end of the season. This year they have a new coach and will be hoping to build on last year’s performances.

It’s fair to say that last year Oxton had the season most team’s only dream of; undefeated in the league, Easter 8 winners and European Club Champions after defeating the best London has to offer. Despite having a number of international players, Oxton also have a good wealth of junior players. A number of their starters, such as Charlotte Lytollis and Olivia Wimpenny, have now moved away to university but plan to return for fixtures meaning Oxton will again be the team to beat this year. They will no doubt be hoping to retain last year’s titles.

Stockport had a pretty inconsistent set of performances last year, with surprising losses throughout their league games. The team really missed Olivia Higson, now playing in the States, and struggled to convert goals in the attacking end despite great efforts from Sam Lillo and Ellie Gosnay. This coming season, Stockport will be looking to improve on last year’s league rankings but it won’t be easy with Sam moving back to America. That said, the remaining players are full of guts and determination so don’t write them off just yet!

Timperley were pleased to finish 2nd in the league rankings, but it wasn’t plain sailing with some tough games against Heaton Mersey and Brooklands. Timperley have said ‘goodbye’ to Brigid Brady, last season’s resident LDO, and now welcome two new Americans, Rachel Minarovich in the midfield and Coleen Smith who, with a torn ACL, will be running things from the side-line. Another excitement for Timperley is the return of Katherine Swallow who has been out for the last 2 seasons. The team will be hoping that these new additions will help them get to the top of the league.

Written by: Jane Brierly
Photo Credit: Lippens Photography

Fixtures 04/10/2014
Heaton Mersey v Timperley
Leeds Penguins v Stockport
Liverpool v Oxton
Mellor v Newcastle

North England Women’s Lacrosse Association Fixtures