The Cayman Islands Netball Association (CINA) are back with a renewed sense of confidence after finishing fifth overall with a record of 2-4 at the Netball Europe Open Challenge held 9-12 May at the National Sports Centre on Douglas, Isle of Man.
After opening the tournament with two losses, Cayman returned to the court Friday (10 May) winning their first international match in nearly five years 52-34 over Emirates. After a Saturday (11 May) loss to eventual winner the United Kingdom Armed Forces 61-27, Cayman finished on a high note scoring a team-best goal tally en route to a 73-43 win over Israel.
“We played tremendously, it was a momentous occasion,” said Co-Captain Nicola Pringle. “The team regrouped from our two losses. We had a meeting with the head players wanting to know where we went wrong. We decided that we wanted this for ourselves, and for the people of the Cayman Islands. The team is feeling tremendously happy. We were tired, but we stood our ground.”
Friday’s double-header was arguably Cayman’s best day of competition, pushing host nation Isle of Man to their limits in a 56-44 loss. The team trailed 37-33 going into the final quarter of play until debutante goalkeeper Nickeisha Lewis was disqualified for obstruction with seven minutes left.
“As a defense player it wasn’t easy for two of us, but the game boosted our confidence,” said Co-Captain Tishelle Logan. “At times it felt like we played against nine players, the Isle of Man and the umpires, but we persevered. They were up by 12 goals at one point. We didn’t feel the umpiring was fair, but we have to change quickly and adapt. We found quickly that some things didn’t work, and we adapted.”
Adding to the positive takeaways of the tournament was Cayman goal scorer Kay Copeland sharing Co-Player of the Tournament honours. Cayman scored 273 goals over six games, averaging 45.5 goals per game; many off the fingers tips of the All-Stars standout in her third tour representing the Cayman Islands.
“I thought we played really well,” said Copeland. “I feel great. There was a lot of great players out there. For me to be the Co-Player of the Tournament, I am really excited about it.”
Online, Netball Europe had nothing but praise telling Cayman 27 via twitter “We loved having them. Great ambassadors for netball and the Cayman Islands.”
Cayman has now played the eight games necessary within the four-year span to regain an international ranking. With a win over 35th ranked Israel, Cayman is sure to be in the top 30s out of the 38 ranked teams.