Solent, Stockport set for National Cup final clash -

Solent, Stockport set for National Cup final clash

Solent Kestrels and Stockport Lapwings meet on Sunday to decide the 2022 winners of the National Cup with the final taking place at the NBPC in Manchester.

The encounter pits WNBL Division 1 against WNBL Division 2 as the Lapwings look to cap an incredible run through to the final with the chance to emulate Ipswich’s triumph as a D2 side from 2018.

Solent are looking to add to the club’s growing trophy cabinet following the vast amounts of success the men’s team has enjoyed in recent years. The occasion marks a first final for many of the roster with their blend of youth and experience under head coach CJ Lee.

“I’m really excited,” Faye Endean told Hoopsfix. “I’ve never been to a final before so this is really exciting for me.

“I feel like Stockport are definitely not a team to underestimate even though they’re a Division 2 team – they are going to come out hard and we need to be prepared for that.”

Endean featured in the Under-19 Women’s game at the 2021 Hoopsfix All-Star Classic last summer, playing against teammate Anna Nevison with the duo enjoying dual roles again this season as they also suit up for Itchen College in the WEABL.

The ’03-born guard recently led the Kestrels to victory in the league with 18 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists in an all-round display and hopes to continue creating for teammates and performing on both ends of the floor.

“I’m quite pleased with my performances so far this season. I feel like I’ve really established my role on the team and what I have to do to benefit and lead my team; such as creating open shots but also getting steals to lead to easy fast break points.”

The Kestrels’ Cup run began with a convincing 17-point road win at fellow D1 side Worcester Wolves before beating Sheffield Hatters II 85-78 in the quarter-finals. They cemented their spot in the final with an impressive 57-73 success away at Anglia Ruskin behind a balanced scoring effort.

“The road to the finals has given us a lot of momentum and confidence,” said Endean. “Our team took some losses in the league, but this final appearance has boosted us a lot and it’s proved to us what kind of team we can be.

“It would mean so much to us [to win]. Picking up silverware would give us a lot of confidence for the second half of the season.

“I think it would show the club what the women’s programme can do and also show to the juniors what they can be a part of.”

As for Stockport, their memorable journey in the Cup began with a win in Manchester and they will be hoping for it to finish in the same way.

Their squad belies their second-tier WNBL status with the likes of Jade Butters and Rachel James along with Rosie Hynes as the familiar surroundings of Sunday’s venue add to the occasion.

“It’s such a big achievement to be playing in the National Cup final, especially as a D2 team,” Hynes told Hoopsfix. “And, the fact that it’s in my hometown of Manchester makes it even more exciting.”

Hynes came out of basketball retirement to suit up for Manchester Mystics in the WBBL as part of the COVID-disrupted campaign. However, due to work commitments, Hynes opted against pursuing another season in the top-flight with a more convenient move.

“It was an easy one,” Hynes said of the decision to return to playing in 2021. “I missed basketball so much.

“Another element that drew me towards the Stockport team (this season) was Jade Butters’ focus on promoting female basketball through her organisation and was keen to be a part of attracting more young females to play.

“My role personally within the team is to be a leader, control the floor, step up and make plays and give their best player hell on defence.”

Stockport followed up their opening win away at Manchester Mystics II with the first of three consecutive wins over D1 opposition. They edged out Nottingham Trent University for a 55-56 success on the road before upsetting CoLA Southwark Pride with a 47-48 triumph.

In the semi-finals, the Lapwings came out on top in another thriller in beating Thames Valley Cavaliers 68-66 at the NBPC in Manchester. The key to the success? ‘Teamwork. Pure and simple’ says Hynes.

“We have such a deep bench and every game different players have stepped up which has been pivotal to our success.

“The team that wants it the most will win. As a team, I can’t tell you how much we want it. Our hard work and determination has got us this far and I think this along with sticking to our game plan will get us the win.

“And, we have to enjoy it and have fun – playing in front of a big crowd on a big stage is what we live for.”

The Women’s National Cup final takes place on Sunday with a 1pm tip in Manchester.

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