The lead up to this week’s game was, as usual, frenetic and disrupted. Team Evans were already one woman down with Lulu out suffering an injured shoulder. But the Mowbray Public School’s entry into the Extreme Dance Competition meant that three additional players were out, or at best, they could only get there for the final quarter. A supervising teacher at the dance was appealed to, the text/whatsapp messages were burning a solid path through the air between Abbotsleigh and Steve Chisholm Oval, and the fully made up dancers arrived with minutes to spare before the game. The Suns had a very full squad and were prepared to loan two players per quarter to take it up to eleven per side.
Many thanks to Balgowlah for their loan players and their flexibility. “We have six. No, eight. Now nine!”
Coach Mic has always emphasized enjoyment of the game, the philosophy being that you don’t play the game well if you aren’t enjoying it. But this has to be matched with firstly skill, and secondly effort and intensity. The three match focus points of “fun”, “kick it forward” and “get to the ball first” highlighted each point of this triumvirate of match success factors. Team Evans played its youngest Captain, with Annabel leading The Cats out. She didn’t get time to address her team — the missing players appearing last minute had disrupted the normal pre-match timeline!
The first quarter was a reasonably even slog, with the Cats scoring one goal to Eva from a thumping floater of a kick. Pleasingly, the teamwork displayed in getting it into Eva’s hands was superb, from the midfield tap and clearance work, through to Annabel, who passed to Coco, who despite being clear herself, handballed to Eva. In pastimes, Eva would’ve frozen and been caught, but she ran clear and the kick was sound. She has certainly come on as a forward.
Sadly the second quarter, with our forwards playing in the defensive zone, and Balgowlah’s strong midfield group now forward, meant the play was almost entirely in the Sun’s forward half. Our defensive lapses were hurting us on the scoreboard, the Suns kicking three goals and some behinds.
A half-time gee up from Coach Mic to play harder seemed to have the desired result, and Team Evans tackled its heart out. The third quarter was played mostly in the Cats mid and forward, but despite a number of attempts, we just could not kick a major. Mila, after a strong effort to get clear, missed her running shot, and Robyn’s set shot from a very tight angle was always going to be tough. Goalless for both sides, and a tired team came to the bench for three-quarter time, with an air of disappointment at missed opportunities.
After Coach Mic addressed his charges, Manager Sam told the girls the equation, “four goals!” The girls thankfully responded to this and turned it on, kicking three goals to one. Coco’s first was a great individual effort, gathering on the forward wing, one running bounce and a steady kick. Eva demonstrated that her goal in the first wasn’t a fluke, and Coco followed up with her second, and off her own clearance. It wasn’t enough to bridge the gap, and the Suns were clear winners.
Today, it was the intensity that was lacking. Too often, our tackles were made and then released before the whistle, allowing the opposition to play on, and there were times when it seemed all that was required was a little bit of extra speed, or doggedness to continue on to reach that player and make the tackle. Coach Mic needs to be a bit more flexible and responsive with zone rotations and player positioning, so we aren’t slaughtered in one quarter. Pleasingly, it is less often now that we are letting players get out the back in defence, but when it does happen, it punishes us.
Team Evans are beginning to have a “thing” with the Balgowlah Suns. Our first match was a draw, this was a loss, and we next meet in round 15, when the Cats will look forward to squaring the ledger!
Isabella (Bella), after a quiet start, has slotted into Team Evans very well, with her outside speed being her outstanding quality. Today though, she took up the midfield mantle and surprised the coach with the number of times she got down and dragged the pill out of the pack. And she’s only a slight girl! She was awarded the Tayla Harris Courage Award. Isobel (Issy) is a natural in the ruck; though blessed with height, she is picking out teammates with her tap and competing when it is on the ground. She is always in the top handful of players, and her work in the middle led to the charge of goals in the final quarter. Issy was awarded the Darcy Vescio Best Player.
Team Evans next game is 11 July at Steve Chisholm against St Ives. Stay tuned for training dates during the school holidays.
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