Lightning the Queens of the Superleague again

THE Loughborough Lightning are the Queens of the Superleague once again, after they defeated the London Pulse 57-48 to claim the 2023 title.

In a tight and entertaining decider, the Lightning eventually pulled away in the third quarter which gave them a boost of confidence and they never looked back.

Off the back of a flying intercept from Zara Everitt, it was the Pulse who were the first to pinch a goal off the opposition centre pass, and consolidated off their opening centre pass to take the early lead. Early the game was a combination of the actual pace of the passes being quick, but also the players taking a slow and steady approach to choosing where to pass the ball.

The Pulse held the lead for much of the front half of the quarter, before the Lightning really lifted, spurred on by a brilliant intercept from skipper Natalie Panagarry. They got withing one before the Pulse regained control and pushed their buffer back out again. The quarter time lead was four goals in favour of the Pulse and it certainly felt like they had the edge after the first 15 minutes, but at the same time that they also could not afford to rest on their laurels.

It was the Lightning who got the better of the starts to the second term, and managed to get within two of the Pulse. The Pulse then steadied and then padded their buffer a little, but then the game went into a bit of a holding pattern as the teams traded blows.

In the final few minutes of the quarter, the Lightning then rallied and came right back at the Pulse. They got within one of the Pulse before a late London goal saw the minor premiers take a two goal lead into the main break.

The Pulse got out to both a quick and strong start to the third term, and were quick to restore the four goal lead they had enjoyed for much of the second term. But then the Lightning kicked into gear and were quick to counter the Pulse’s early momentum, and finally managed to draw level with them.

Off the back of some stellar defending from Fran Williams, the Lightning were really starting to lift and properly took the lead for the first time in the game. The Lightning continued to lift as the third quarter progressed, and really had the Pulse on the back foot.

Even with the ever looming threat of Funmi Fadoju, the Lightning were really using the height advantage of Mary Cholhok to their advantage and the path into the ring became much easier for the North Londoners.

After getting out to as much as five goals ahead, the Lightning’s lead sat at four goals at the final change, but it was starting to feel like the script had definitely been flipped. They had also kept the Pulse to only eight goals scored for the quarter in the third term.

The Lightning continued where they left off early in the last quarter. Their building of momentum in the third term seemed to really give them a boost of confidence, and it was showing in the last quarter. The just kept pushing further ahead, and never looked back on the way to what turned out to be a comfortable victory.

Player of the Match Williams was an absolute star for the Lightning, finishing with 10 turnovers, six deflections, four intercepts and a rebound. Cholhok (44 goals, four rebounds, one intercept, one turnovers) and Panagarry (26 feeds, two deflections, one intercept, one turnover) also both starred.

Meanwhile for the Pulse Fadoju (15 deflections, eight turnovers, one intercept, one rebound) was again the star, as was Chelsea Pitman (24 feeds, one deflection).

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