The University of Chichester women’s handball team are national champions after competing with the best student clubs from across England, Scotland and Wales in the University Plate at Medway Park Sports Centre in Gillingham.
Medway hosts three handball National Finals through March – the National Cup, Plate and Shield, with initial seeding competitions beforehand to determine in which event universities compete.
In the Plate pool stages on Day One the Chichester women handballers lost narrowly to Loughborough, drew 8-8 with last year’s National Cup runners-up Nottingham and picked up wins against Heriot Watt and Birmingham to qualify for the knock-out stages on Day Two.
Chichester and Nottingham met again in the final with Chichester winning a close contest 7-5.
The men’s first team made it to the last eight after victories over Leeds Beckett, Kent and Brunel.
Steven Hurst from the men’s ones said: “We did well. There are things we can work on to improve for the harder games that come down the line.
“We are very pleased for the women. It’s a real achievement to win this and show the other universities around the country what we can do.”
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There was cup success too for women’s futsal who made it to the quarter-finals of the Championship, the knock-out tournament for premier university teams, thanks to a dramatic 6-5 comeback win against Loughborough after trailing 4-1. They will face holders Northumbria for a place in the semis.
The men’s futsal South Eastern Conference final between Chichester and Westminster was decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Niah McKinley-Burke scored a first half hat-trick but Chichester headed into the break 5-3 down.
Two McKinley-Burke goals after the restart dragged Chichester back into the game before Westminster regained the lead.
Josh Clark rattled the post and then Marcus Ball crashed in an equaliser.
The sides weren’t level for long as Westminster bagged a couple of quick-fire goals.
McKinley-Burke’s sixth strike made it 8-7 but Westminster went further ahead.
A huge momentum shift set up a tense end to the final as strikes from Clark and Henry Ellis levelled things at 9-9 before the Westminster keeper pulled off two important saves with less than 20 seconds on the clock to send the game to penalties.
After both league encounters between the sides earlier in the season finished in high scoring draws this came as little surprise to some.
The shoot-out might have gone either way but Westminster edged it 3-2 in sudden death.
Chichester’s futsal president James Callnon said: “To lose on pens is heartbreaking but we will focus our attentions on the league now, aiming to finish strong.”
There was heartbreak for university teams in three other cup finals.
It was 0-0 after 90 minutes in the South Eastern Conference Plate final but the men’s football sixes conceded two extra-time goals against Surrey fours.
Afterwards sixes captain Ciar Cox said: “We were on the back foot for most of the game. They were a good side who moved the ball around nicely. We had a couple of chances on the counter attack but these didn’t quite fall for us.
“It’s hard to take but we had a really good cup run.”
Women’s lacrosse had to settle for a runners-up spot when their South Eastern Conference Cup final with Sussex finished 12-10 after extra-time.
And the dream of a league and cup double is over for the netball ones who lost 45-25 to King’s College London in the SECC final.
Elsewhere, a number of Chichester teams had tough matches against league leaders. Women’s badminton lost 6-2 at home to a strong Surrey side who have yet to drop points this season. The women’s second football team were beaten 2-0 by champions-elect St Mary’s, table toppers Roehampton got the better of the men’s hockey twos and Portsmouth beat the netball threes 60-35.
Women’s tennis bounced back from their semi-final exit in the South Eastern Conference Cup last time out with an 8-4 victory at home to Royal Holloway.
A resurgent women’s rugby team made it three wins in a row after they beat King’s 29-5 thanks to two tries from vice-captain Katie Corr and others by Paige Hanson and Abi Hunt. Ana O’Connor added three conversions and a penalty kick before King’s scored a late consolation.