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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ruislip Eagles Retake League Title

RUISLIP Eagles regained the National Women’s League title on Saturday when they beat title rivals Olympia 32-21 at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre to give themselves an unassailable lead with one game to play.

Olympia were still in with a chance of winning the title themselves if they could beat the Eagles, but after a heavy defeat at their hands earlier in the season, they did well to make a much better fight of it, particularly in the first half.

Ruislip were always in control thanks to another fine performance from their top scoring duo of Zsuzi Telek and Dani Sposi and a season-best showing from Judit Volgyi on the right wing.

Despite being without key central defender Kirstin Pappenfuss, Ruislip’s defence was well marshalled by Milli Chebanova, who put in a series of great blocks and managed the threat of Olympia’s line player.

Eagles’ Head Coach Mel Chowns said: “ It was not a pleasant feeling losing the league last year to worthy winners Great Dane but I am delighted with how the team have responded this year, the team spirit they have shown and the application during training they have given.

“When you consider that we have also been without several key players this season with long term injuries, I am really pleased for the team.”

But the Eagles had little time for celebration as the following day they headed to Manchester to play Deva in the English Cup.

Deva made a great start, catching Eagles cold with a series of fast breaks and racing into a six-goal lead before Ruislip had even got on the score board.

Gradually Ruislip got into the game but Deva were well in contention thanks to great goal-scoring from Popa Florentina and Dorota Basta who added experience to the young team.

With Dani Sposi marked out of the game, Ruislip had to rely on the strength of other players to get the goals and these duly came from Erika Rescka and Bee Bjarnadóttir. Ruislip recovered from their dreadful start to eventually go in at half time with a 20-17 lead.

But Deva kept up the pressure in the second half, with coach Donna Hankinson adopting a very offensive defence, but the experience of Ruislip was too much and they gradually found space through Telek and Dreksler and ran out comfortable 40-30 winners.

Coach Mel Chowns was full of praise for Deva’s young squad: “It was not ideal having two key matches in one weekend but I am so impressed with the work Donna is doing with the young British players in Deva.

“They showed fantastic speed and power for a young team and gave us a lot of problems. This is what we want to see happening in all clubs - giving young British women the chance and I include Ruislip in that.

“We must combine the skills of the European players living here with the development of young home grown talent. Hats off to Deva for driving this.”

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