Mother’s Day for Team Evans’ Mums was spent at Steve Chisholm Oval watching their daughters play the Northwest Lightning. We figured that it was going to be a very different game to the pre-season “friendly” match. Northwest have some very good players, and a very full side.
At training during the week, we had discussed and drilled getting back from the mark on a free kick or after taking a mark, and also about improving our handballing skills. We made these our match focus. The girls did have to be reminded before play started to focus on the upcoming game rather than the dogs being walked, and Exasperated Coach made his first appearance. (But also Coach needed the reminder that at this age, Sundays are just as much about the social aspects of playing a team sport as it is about the contest!) The girls did focus in quickly, and after a pep talk by Captain Isla, our ten players plus two loan players from Northwest took the field.
Team Evans were the first to strike, with a good pass to Coco being marked about 20m out from the goal. The question was, whether the training on set shots during the week was effective. Despite needing some reassurance from Coach, she kicked coolly, strongly and accurately, and The Cats were away. In fact, the first quarter the defenders ended up creeping forward well into the midfield zone they saw the ball so little!
The second quarter the Lightning had obviously had a decent talk with Coach, because they came out strongly. Our defenders were under a lot of pressure and it was only through some hard defensive work that the opposition didn’t score more. It wasn’t all one-way though, and the most outstanding play for the day came in the second. Robyn cleared it out of a midfield contest to be marked by Izzy, who passed it to Isla, who didn’t hesitate and didn’t miss. It was an outstanding piece of teamwork.
The third quarter has for some reason ended up being the quarter where Team Evans struggles, it may be a combination of zone rotation or tiredness, but most of this was spent in the mid and defensive zones. We came into the three-quarter time break down on the scoreboard and down in spirits. Coach Mic tried to rev up his charges for a final push, waggishly asking for a seven-goal haul (we were only one goal down!), and Manager Sam challenged the girls boisterously.
The girls responded to Sam’s call and the last minutes of the game saw an even contest. A final highlight was seeing Bella score her first goal from point-blank after some ground-ball work, and a couple of prior attempts. Persistence pays off, Bella!
The Cats were in this till the finish. There was some dispute about whether we’d won or not, which goal umpire’s score was correct, and whether the fact that a goal umpire had signalled a goal before the ball hit the post meant that we’d really won or not. But it felt like a win, and regardless, we had played very well against a very strong side. It has to be mentioned how much all the girls have improved since the pre-season. Perhaps the biggest indicator of this is that quite often now, the girls just get in and do what they need to do without Coach reminding them of (for instance) field placing or picking up opponents. Even more pleasing is that when on-field, you can hear the girls directing each other, a sign of growing confidence and maturity.
Annabel had a rough day, twice being injured and returning to the field, and although the Tayla Harris Courage award is not about being injured, it is at least partially about carrying on through difficulty. Annabel received this award. The Darcy Vescio Play of the Day was awarded to Bella for scoring her first goal – it was not necessarily that she scored the goal, but that Coach challenged her at three-quarter time to get more involved, and she did just that. Congratulations Annabel and Bella.
Team Evans I hope your passports are in order because our next game is up at Forestville against the Lions. It was a good team win when we played here last year, so hopes are high!
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