Newcastle Vikings Handball Club’s women’s team narrowly lost out 14-16 to Loughborough University’s first team in a tight North-Midlands semi-final play-off match at Oldham Leisure Centre on Sunday.
The England Handball Regional League North champions started the match strongly as the two sides traded goals in the early stages, centre Maren Liane’s penalty shot, right-half Alina Inta’s back-court strike and captain Sandra Christke making a rare appearance on the right wing all finding the back of the net to set the ball rolling for the Vikings.
Newcastle then opened out a four-goal lead as player-coach Marlen Slinning Goulty, Liane and Inta twice exploited gaps in the Loughborough defence line. However, the student side fought back and, despite further Vikings goals from Inta and Christke doubles, the two teams went into the half-time break all square at 11-11.
The second-half proved to be an even lower-scoring tense affair dominated by defensive solidity from both sides. Loughborough edged in front before Inta struck on a fast-break and then fired in from the penalty line, while Vikings goalkeeper Andrea King saved a penalty at the other end. But despite being evenly matched throughout, Newcastle struggled to find their way past the opposition keeper and player-of-the-match Inta’s third of the half and eighth of the match proved too little too late as the opportunity of a play-off final for promotion to the Premier League slipped away.
The 14-16 final score saw Loughborough I pick up the play-off winners plate award and go through to the promotion play-off final against South winners Reading Lionesses. But having won the club’s first league title Newcastle’s ladies can nevertheless be proud of their achievements this season.
Newcastle Vikings: Andrea King (GK), Marlen Slinning Goulty (1 goal), Katerina Gibson, Maren Liane (2), Ingvild Misund, Alina Inta (8), Sandra Christke (3), Maria Gonzalez-Alvarez.