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Longtails denied on goal difference

Raynor scored 48 goals in Bermuda’s two games (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Bermuda experienced heartache against the United States as they lost their three-match series in Brooklyn, New York, on goal difference.

The islanders played back-to-back matches on Friday, losing the opener 48-36 and taking the second 40-36, to set up a winner-takes-all finale which ended 36-36 on Saturday night.

With the series all square, the outcome was decided on goal difference with the US claiming the honours with a marginally better record.

Danielle Raynor was Bermuda’s top scorer in all three games, with 27 points in the first match, 21 in the second and 26 in the decider.

Ilze Gideons, the Bermuda coach, said she was proud of her team’s “gritty” performances and believed they had been the better side during the series.

“It was a really tight series — unbelievable,” said the South African. “We were definitely disappointed because I felt we were the better team.

“We kept improving with every game and they really brought it to the table. I was very proud of them.”

Bermuda trailed in the third and final match but managed to pull level in the dying moments.

“There was contact in the shooting circle before time ran out and we got a penalty shot and scored right on the buzzer,” Gideons said. “It was quite hectic and intense!”

Bermuda played in the Netball Europe Invitational in Aberdeen, Scotland, last month, beating Israel 70-28 and 50-36, and losing to Ireland 44-24 and Gibraltar 50-44.

Against the US, however, they had to adapt to a more physical style of netball.

“The US were a lot more physical than the girls were used to,” said Gideons, who has coached Bermuda since February. “The game is becoming more of a contact sport and that rattled us a little bit.”

Tempers boiled over during Bermuda’s win in the second match, with Asante Chapman and a US player being sent off in the fourth quarter for fighting.

“There was some tension built up on the court but it was quickly resolved,” Gideons added.

“There was an incident which the umpires missed and that led to a wrap-up between two players — they were both sent off.”

Although Bermuda’s ambitious chances of competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, are over, Gideons believes it is important the programme does not stagnate.

Bermuda, who needed to be ranked in the top 14 to reach the Commonwealth Games, hope to gain a world ranking in the near future as they look to qualify for major competitions.

“We’ve had a few countries express an interest in coming to Bermuda,” said Gina Benjamin, of the Bermuda Netball Association president.

“The US are keen to come to Bermuda as early as next March. That means we have some work to do as an association to get our level of facilities up to standard.”

Gideons is keen to lead the team beyond her short-term deal, which has now expired, although she admits that funding will be an issue.

“We had a meeting with the Minister of Sport [Nandi Outerbridge] last week and hopefully they will follow up on that,” said Gideons, who is based in Brooklyn.

“We need to figure out some ways to raise funds and really need the backing of the country.”