The opening round of the British University handball championships threw off on the 22nd of November with Brunel Women’s team travelling to Wolverhampton hoping for a successful start in their attempt to improve on last year’s 13th place.
The championships run over three weekends with the first two acting as qualifiers and seeding tournaments for the final weekend. Brunel were placed in the central group due to the excess of women’s teams in London, however they would still have to face the 2013/14 runners-up Nottingham and third placed Loughborough.
They opened on Saturday with a game against Nottingham who had been beaten in last year’s final by AECC. Brunel had a lightning start, quickly opening up a significant lead in the first half with goals from all players. At the break Brunel had not even conceded a goal mainly thanks to debuting keeper Del Posner; who was doing a brilliant job at maintaining the BUHC tradition of producing shot-stopping talent. Come the second half Brunel’s lead began to be cut however their five goal lead never looked under significant threat. At full-time the score was Brunel 13 Nottingham 9.
The following game would be equally tough against Loughborough, well known for their sporting talent. However, Brunel started exactly the same as before, racing into a 5 goal lead without conceding. Again, all positions were finding easy scores with goals shared between them. Former Austria division 1 player Sabrina Staudinger and Norwegian Bo Tuv Dalland stood out, with Brunel’s British duo of Gabby Kurdyla and Annaleigh Knott contributing six between them. Following half-time Loughborough began to claw their way back yet again Brunel never looked threatened. Final score was a massive Brunel 14 Loughborough 6.
Their final game was the following day against an unknown team from Birmingham University. Brunel seemed to have had lost the momentum that propelled them to two victories the previous day but star player Maria Kourdoulos, who is also currently the top scorer in the European Challenge Cup for her local club, kept the scoreboard ticking over, easily keeping Brunel ahead of the Birmingham attack. The final score was a relatively lacklustre Brunel 7 Birmingham 4.
After completing a full set of victories Brunel women will obviously be looking to go all the way at this year’s championships. Their threat was underlined by the fact that main rivals Middlesex University stayed for two hours after their final game to be able to watch and assess the Brunel team. The next round will take place in February with another seeding tournament, the finals following soon after in March. In the meantime Brunel return to LUSL Handball with games against UCL and Imperial before Christmas.
If you are interested in playing or learning handball no matter what your ability, for either Brunel’s men’s or women’s teams, search for Brunel Handball on Facebook.