2022 VNSL team review: London Pulse
IN the wake of the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season finishing, we have taken a look back at how each team fared. We continue the 11-team countdown with the third placed London Pulse who impressed throughout the season to consistently be a title threat, and though they did not win a final, still worried the best opposition sides.
Position: 3rd (4th after Finals)
Goals For: 1096 (5th)
Goals Against: 1021 (1st)
Goal Difference: 75 (3rd)
SEASON IN A NUTSHELL
London Pulse had a real baptism of fire to start the season, having to play three of the contenders in the opening three rounds, going down to reigning premiers Loughborough Lightning, and Saracens Mavericks, whilst defeating Team Bath.
The Pulse really established their title worthiness with a five-game winning streak, albeit over the bottom five sides. They knocked off Wasps, Celtic Dragons, Severn Stars, Surrey Storm and Strathclyde Sirens to be 6-2 after eight rounds.
They had a tough next month, with only a Round 10 win over Leeds Rhinos the saving grace, dropping the other three games to the other finalists in Manchester Thunder, the Lightning and Bath to be 7-4. They bounced back with another six-game winning streak to lock up finals, beating all those sides below them including the Mavericks again.
A Round 19 loss to the Thunder – which was another competitive defeat by six goals after getting within three the first time – was followed by a seven-goal win over Leeds Rhinos. The Pulse had not matched up as well against the Lightning this season and it showed in the finals, going down by 12 goals in the semi-final, then suffered a heartbreaking four-goal defeat at the hands of Team Bath in the Third Placed Playoff.
A four-goal win over Team Bath really gave the Pulse confidence to start the season strongly, running out 52-48 victors in Round 2. The Pulse won the first half convincingly, leading by three goals at quarter time and had doubled that by half-time. A third term surge from Bath cut the deficit to just two at the final break, before the Pulse steadied to win the final term 14-12 and run out 52-48 victors. Funmi Fadoju was simply outstanding for the Pulse, racking up six intercepts, 11 deflections, nine turnovers and one intercept, teaming up well with Zara Everitt (three intercepts, three deflections and four turnovers) and Jasmin Odeogberin (three deflections, one intercept and two turnovers. Up the attacking end, Kira Rothwell scored 10 goals from 11 chances and had 15 feeds, while Ellie Rattu had a game-high 18 feeds in the win.
It is hard to look past Fadoju who was ridiculously impressive from start to finish. The Pulse goalkeeper had the most deflections in the league by far with 123, 24 more than the next highest. Fadoju also recorded the fourth most intercepts and turnovers with 50 and 105, earning herself a place in the extended Roses squad (travelling emergency) for the Commonwealth Games.
ONE TO WATCH
Few could lay claim to a more breakout season than shooting sensation Olivia Tchine. Having been behind Sigrid Burger in the pecking order the year before, Tchine went from a 204-goal-a-year shooter who played as the support, to being the key target inside the shooting circle. Tchine piled on a massive 732 goals, which ranked her third overall in the league amongst a host of international shooting stars. Not only did she shoot a lot, Tchine did it with a 91 per cent efficiency. Remarkably, Tchine only turns 22 at the end of the year.
London Pulse showed they can be competitive and will likely be a massive threat next season, with the youth getting plenty of experience in their legs. If they can continue to grow together, they can create something incredibly special for the future given the majority of the list is still young.