Roma United Sports Club are one step closer to capping a brilliant return to local netball.
After a brief hiatus from the sport, Roma will be playing in the national championship game on April 5 against Cayman’s reigning dynasty, Conyers All Stars, from 8 p.m. at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex netball courts. Roma booked their finals berth with a tense 54-47 win over Rising Stars A in the semifinals of the Appleby Netball League last Saturday at Truman Bodden.
Cayman Islands Netball Association first vice president Norma Ferryman has followed Roma’s progression this season and is left impressed with the team’s form.
“Both Roma and Rising Stars did really good in that game, they played like professionals,” Ferryman said. “It was a big game and to me it was a major clash. What I like about Rising Stars is they have great sportsmanship. Rising Stars is a young, talented club and I feel if they were a older club they could have won.
“I’ve enjoyed watching Roma play and they have gone from strength to strength. They have some seasoned players – like Stacy-Ann Dehaney – who have the skill and love the game. They have one of the top shooters in Kay Copeland who knows how to move to get to the ball and she’s very accurate. Ultimately, they are a strong team that love the sport, netball is part of their lives and it’s one of the reasons why they perform so well.”
Copeland and Dehaney had starring roles in the semifinal win. They kept the offense moving throughout all four quarters, working well with fellow attackers Nicola Pringle and Joanne Ziegler. Defensively, Roma were able to withstand an athletic assault from star prodigies Rosemarie Wilson, Alexis Carias and Kimberly David – all of whom starred on last summer’s storied Under-21 team. In the end, Roma held their nerves best and committed fewer mistakes down the stretch to enjoy the winning edge.
That performance was the highlight of a comeback campaign for a team that dominated the sport three years ago. Roma has retained some of the pieces from their 2010-2011 back-to-back championship squads, like Carrie Barnett-Carter, but the additions – especially in defense – have reaped dividends. Thanks to the likes of newcomers Keisha Solomon and Roxanne Walton, Roma maintained a top three ranking throughout the regular season.
For all of those positives, Roma will go into the finals as underdogs. All Stars have beat them convincingly this season and look every bit like the reigning two-time national champions. Historically, the sides have been major rivals with All Stars and members of Roma squaring off over the last five finals. In Ferryman’s eyes, the rivalry between the two sides will continue for the foreseeable future.
“All Stars, Rising Stars and Roma are the top three clubs and you always have to watch them because you don’t know who will win. All Stars is a veteran team, they are the stalwarts of the sport. They have more seasoned players now who have honed their skills and they have arguably the best veteran players. But again, the final is a game that you have to watch because you just don’t know what will happen. Either way, if Roma can keep their players and add more, they can be a force to be reckoned with.”
Aside from the national championship game, a number of contests are scheduled this week. April 3 offers a trio of consolation matches as Affinity Sapphires battle Lights International while the University College of the Cayman Islands challenge Ernst and Young Hot Shots at 6:45 p.m. before Rising Stars face Flames Strikers at 8 p.m. April 5 offers two finals as Cayman National Bank All Stars B face Rising Stars B for the Plate division crown while Blue Diamonds battle Jacques Scott Social for the Division Three crown at 6:45 p.m.
Noviann McLean and All Stars B advanced to the finals after beating Affinity, 42-17, while Patrice Stewart and Rising Stars B had a dramatic 36-30 win over Lights. Diamonds beat UCCI, 36-11, while Charlotte Shepheard and Jacques Scott beat Hot Shots, 39-17. Katherine Maw and Conyers got a bye into the final courtesy of a Strikers forfeit. Ferryman said of those teams, she is most impressed with Hot Shots.
“Ernst and Young are not in the finals but they improved a lot. A lot of teams advanced their level of play that didn’t get into the finals.”