St Ives Village Green was bustling with activity on Sunday morning when Team Evans arrived to play the Saints. Warm and sunny, the player’s parents were hurriedly searching for sunscreen in their kit. The ground was set up to its largest yet, in fact I’m sure that the northern end of the field was in a different postcode. With a small team, a large field worked against us last week, but this week worked in our favour. St Ives had seven players, we had ten, which made it a tricky time of loaning one player per quarter and rotating a player off the bench, rotating players through the zones of 3-3-2 players, and trying to ensure it was fair for everyone; there were more moving parts than a grandfather clock.
Our focus this week was on “Movement and Energy”, which we discussed during the previous training session. The players were reminded to not only move back and forth and forward and back to follow the play, but also to play with energy. This meant also to look like they had energy, no standing with hands together, and always on their toes and ready to receive the ball. With a small speech that emphasized teamwork, Captain Eloise (Lulu) led her team onto the field.
The team did show energy in trailer loads, from the first bounce the midfielders got the ball forward where Eva put a behind through, and from that point, the Cats were never fronted. The ball was kept mostly forward for the first quarter with Coco dominating with four goals, and when it wasn’t Mila was tackling well in defence. The first quarter included one game highlight with Isla and Izzy moving the ball through the midfield, they worked off each other kick-mark, kick-mark, to get it into the forwards. While Lulu professes to prefer playing in the backline, she excelled when sent forward in the second, kicking three majors. One was an excellent set shot that had absolutely nothing to do with the coaching (“I reckon you can kick that Lulu”), one off a cracking handball forward from Annabel, and another that just bounced the right way. And where did that booming kick out of the centre come from, Robyn? At the long break, the Cats were well in front.
The second half only increased St Ives’ worries with the Isla and Izzy show moving into the forward zone, Isla kicking two and Izzy her first major for her new team. Even Bella tried to get into the act, but unfortunately her radar was off and she kicked a confident behind. The final quarter was goalless, as that energy finally drained, and tired players and bodies played out the game. Although I have highlighted the goalkickers, I should remind players and parents that while the goals are kicked by a single player, it is more often than not a team effort to get it into the kicker’s hands.
The Cats finished with an emphatic victory. It is possible that the seismograph at Uni of Newcastle picked up the tremors from the post-match song.
It was interesting for us to hear the opposition coach use the same reminders to his team as us (“Get it on the boot!”), and that they have calls for when their player is free (“Time!) and when they are under pressure (“Heat!”). There is certainly something we can learn from every team we play. Other than basic skill errors, which will improve with time (and individual practice, hint, hint), there is very little that could be improved upon. The things we asked of the players prior to the game, such as movement were good, and the girls remained focussed.
Verity, despite being one of the youngest and smallest, is gaining in composure with the ball. She displayed great sportswomenship today, played well for the opposition, and suffered a hard tackle from her own teammate — our tallest player as well — and was deservedly awarded the Taylor Harris Courage award. Isla played a blinder, she was most effective in the midfield getting clearance after clearance, but she took a number of overhead marks, including a very strong contested mark, and when sent forward, kicked a lazy couple of goals. She was given the Darcy Vescio Player of the Day.
Team Evans returns to Steve Chisolm Oval to face Northwest Lightning next Sunday morning. We are looking forward to continuing on our good form.
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