For those who are unaware, the Lane Cove Cats song is sung to the tune of the Toreador Song from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen (or, if you are my vintage, the TV commercial for B&D Roll-a-door). Coach Mic had this blasting through the car sound system on the way to Frank Grey Oval at Manly, last Sunday prior to Team Evans meeting against the Manly Bombers, hoping to inspire his player passengers. Unfortunately, it was a rather rushed rendition, because a 30-minute miscalculation meant that a lento drive to Curl Curl turned into a prestissimo rush. Thankfully even the radar trap on the overpass above the Roseville Bridge approach didn’t cause an issue or fine (that we know of so far), and Coach and players were there with twenty minutes till centre-bounce to find Coach Kelly had the girls running laps patiently.
During the training session we’d had the girls practicing getting out the back of a contest and using their speed to break clear. We made this the focus of our game, a fact which Captain Robyn talked about in the pre-game address. We had our ten players, with three loan from Manly, playing with five in the midfield. This was going to mean that the midfield on the smaller field was congested, and that would present its own challenges.
The first quarter demonstrated just how challenging the game was going to be with a high number of stoppages. The Cats were getting the upper hand though, and registered their first goal through Eva. It took Eva over a year to kick her first goal, and only seven days to kick her second! Despite a number of attempts, and the ball being predominantly in the Cats forward half, we were not able to score another major before coming into the quarter time break. The talk was on continuing the pressure, and maintaining defensive and attacking balance on either side of contests, in particular, at stoppages.
The second quarter included the play of the game. Izzy had threaded the needle with a hand-pass to Lulu, who got clear, thumped a kick out to an unmarked Isla on the forward wing who marked, pushed back and kicked to Mila, who marked, pushed back and kicked to Isla who had pushed forward and marked in the goal square. She didn’t miss from there. The cheers from the supporters at each mark sounded like the “three cheers” at a birthday party, with an extra loud cheer and clapping for the conversion. Isla followed up towards the end of the quarter, with another goal on the run.
Half-time break saw the secret stash of oranges arrive, fresh off the tree, and the players (and some others, it has to be said) hook in con brio. The players were reminded not to get caught out watching the ball, and to move laterally across the field to support their teammates as the play moved. This was plucking at strings though, the players were overwhelmingly in attention.
The third quarter, normally our adagio movement, was this time played on The Cats terms. Robyn willed through a goal that just bounced the right way, and Izzy followed with her own strong goal after clearing a forward contest. The fourth saw Manly lift their efforts and keep Team Evans goalless, but were still not able to register a goal themselves. The final cowbell (yes that’s correct) found The Cats winners.
Coach Mic mentioned to at least one parent during the week that our game against the Forest Lions was our best game yet, but this win against Manly was on another level. Aside from the fact that all players played well, we are looking like more than just a bunch of talented athletes, and more like a team of talented players. Our younger players are playing surprisingly strongly, and our leaders are taking charge when needed. Communication on-ground is strong, and the girls just get it done without (too much) complaint. One thing that is mentioned every week is “having fun”, and it is clear that this team does enjoy themselves, whether it is a tight tussle with a determined opposition or, as on Sunday, an overwhelming win. It is so pleasing from both a coaching and parenting perspective to see this happening.
Robyn captained today and led superbly by example. She tackled hard and got clear, and her kicks were effective. She kicked a goal herself in the third when rotated forward, and after being injured in the fourth, when asked if she wanted to come off, played on. She is Team Evans’ “giggling assassin”, as she is a quiet and shy little girl, who has a tackle like a vice-grip and a thumping kick. When playing in defence she is desperate and competent, and a vital part of the team.
Mila was awarded the Tayla Harris courage award. She’d copped a knee to the nose, but didn’t even complain about it. She just got to the next contest. And there is more than a passing resemblance in this shot below.
Lulu is one of our best players: she is the longest kick by far, one of our best markers, is happy to get down and drag the pill out of the contest, has great leg speed, and consistently plays well. The Darcy Vescio Award for Best Play has been a long time coming, but this week, the way she spotted-up Isla on the wing and delivered it lace out to her rightly earned her best on ground.
Even the best teams can work on something though, and Team Evans will see how we can improve our decision making, we sometimes still make the choice to hand-ball to team-mates who are under more pressure than ourselves, when a kicked ball forward can gain more distance and we can then rely on our teammates speed and ability to win ball.
The girls and supporters sang a fortissimo rendition of the Lane Cove Cats song.
Team Evans’ next game is against Willoughby Wildcats at Gore Hill in two weeks. Hopefully the parents can get away to their island resorts next Sunday, or away to the opera, or even just a sleep in would be good, and players can recharge their batteries.
[And thank you Simon Latus for the brilliant photos!]
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