It is three hundred and twenty-two days since a chorus of “see you next week’s” after the Tiger’s game. Since then, we locked down for Delta, but no football – discovered Omicron is a letter of the Greek alphabet, but no football – flew to Europe with 15 people in the aircraft, but no football – David bought a new lens for his camera, but no football – named the covid dog “Noah” for his ability to survive floods, but no football – trained through the pre-season, but NO FOOTBALL.
After two washed out rounds, at last a game is scheduled on artificial turf and the day arrives with warmth on our backs and a clear sky. A big squad has formed for the start of the season, the core of last year’s 16s, the graduates from the 14s and welcome additions from Ryde, Willoughby and Canada Bay.
The first game of each season is debutant day. An opportunity to cast an eye over the new teammates and see where they might fit best in the team. Knowing that everyone is likely to be a little rusty, The Coach and A Coach have laid out a couple of simple ideas for everyone to remember: “Lower eyes”; “Use the width”; “Second effort”. After a scrappy ten minutes, perhaps “Catch the ball” might have been more appropriate, as half a dozen uncontested chest marks hit the deck. As the muscle memory returns, the skills reappear and the team structure reforms. The ball is spending more time in the Cat’s forward line and finds its way to Emma, who marks in front and kicks the first goal of the season. LilyS obviously received a tackling bag for Christmas and is trying out her new technique on various members of the opposition. Scarlett has joined the team and is out on the wing showing the rest of the team how to “use the width”, she’s interacting well with her teammates and advancing the ball at every opportunity. Graiceeee has started her season with her usual vigour and is rewarded with a goal. H, evidently tiring of breaking tackles, finishes the quarter by passing directly to one of her opponents, before tackling her into the ground. A possession, a pass and a tackle in one go – an unconventional method of getting your stats up. Q1 LCC 2.3.15 MBs 0.0.0
Through the second quarter the Cats we know start to appear. The rust is falling away, the structures are forming and the team have heard the “use the width” instruction. Zoe looks like she has scored her first goal for the year with a little toe poke, but the goal ump says it crossed in an earlier movement and signals a behind. The A.R.M.O.’s last game was the preliminary final 2020 (581 days ago!), but it doesn’t look like she has missed a day and the ball is coming out of the half back line with frightening consistency. Jaimie’s intense work rate is creating its usual havoc on the opposition and she is stepping through the packs with elan. Aoife is playing her first game and takes a little time to figure out where to be – but its only a little time. She takes an overhead mark in midfield, finds a teammate running past and runs forward to position herself for the next move. Looks a natural. Tipsy picks the ball from the bottom of yet another pack and kicks forward to LilyS who marks and kicks true for her first. Only moments later, the Cover Girl, who has been working hard out of the back pocket, does it again and finds Emma in the pocket, who in turn finds LilyS on the lead and it’s a repeat of the last goal. Q2 LCC 4.6.30 MBs 0.0.0
The Bomber’s intensity has lifted in the third quarter. Ash has been chasing hard all game and brings the ball out of defence to Emma for her second. Zara is taking the brunt of the Bomber’s lifted effort on the wing, but working hard and winning the ball against multiple opponents. Chops is also in the heat of battle, where else would she be, and riding the bumps while collecting the ball. Caitlin is looking good in the middle, breaking tackles and clearing the ball out of heavy packs. Krysta has forced her parents to return home from holidays early to make the game and it pays off as she takes on two attackers and through repeated effort forces the kick wide and saves a goal. Q3 LCC 5.6.36 MBs 1.1.7
The heat and season break are taking their toll in the final quarter and we are getting a little misty about what games looked like in the U10s – 30 players around the ball. Nikki has moved down forward to get her hands on the ball and Cover Girl takes off through the middle and finds Elin free in the forward pocket. Elin’s kick sails through the middle at the top of the posts for her first. Graiceeee is one of the few still running at the end and is rewarded with the final goal. In amongst the first game messiness, there have been good outbreaks of structured footy and this will no doubt improve as the season progresses. As is customary for the Cats, there was certainly no lack of first, second or third efforts. The new girls look like great additions to the team and the “old” girls found their feet as the game wore on.
A solid start to season 2022.
Final Score: Lane Cove Cats 7.8.50 d Miranda Bombers 3.2.20
Goals: E. Byrne (2), G. Sachs (2), L. Sullivan (2), E. Ladmore
Players’ Player: L. Sullivan
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