By Jordan Witte and Claire Macuz
The Metro Revellers U17 squads experienced mixed results on a bitterly cold Tuesday night at Parkville.
The Division 4 squad battled hard for every goal against a determined Moonee Valley outfit, while the Division 3 team couldn’t have scripted it any better, coming from behind to continue their recent dominance of Airport Saints.
In the early game, the Division 4 squad once again struggled for numbers. Bookends Leah Cheevers (calf) and Louisa Bongrain (illness) were unavailable, requiring junior Jessica Nish to step up and fill the goal shooter spot.
Moonee Valley took a heavy lead into the first change, after taking advantage of their goal shooter’s height over goalkeeper Lucy Beath. Beath battled manfully to restrict her opposition’s flow of ball, utilising different starting positions and working in conjunction with Maddy Birrell, but sheer weight of numbers meant the Revellers were behind the eight ball from the word go.
Goal attack Aimee Harris has worked on getting more involved in the game, and her effort was a highlight as Metro began to work their way into the game. Harris teamed well with Eve Hinchliffe and Pauline Genreau, as the trio combined to move the ball into the goal circle.
Unfortunately, an off shooting night for both Harris and Nish meant that the Revellers weren’t able to capitalize on their nine scoring opportunities for the quarter, with Harris converting two of her seven shots, and Nish just one of three attempts.
Jas Synott performed admirably in wing attack for the majority of the game, with her passing taking the game on and attempting to get Harris & Nish into scoring positions. Birrell’s running was a highlight, as she set up several forward thrusts with bursts out of defense.
The slow start by the Revellers proved to be a bridge too far, however, with the undermanned squad suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of the Eagles.
In a crucial match up, the Division 3 squad required a win to stay in touch with the top four, and a six-goal-to-three first quarter gave the girls the perfect start.
Natalie Williams was the early standout, with four deflections and outstanding defensive pressure disrupting several key passes from Saints players. The first-year U17 has had an exceptional season in the higher age group so far, with her defensive instincts and active hands wreaking havoc on opposing goalers.
With a three-goal lead at quarter time, the Revellers tried desperately to press home their advantage, employing the “Five” zone with mixed success. The Saints moved the ball through the zone with ease, with centre Darja Bilyanska playing too high at times, allowing an easy get-out pass.
The ease of movement and an improved shooting effort from the Saints combined to drag the underdogs back into the match, with a seven-goal quarter leveling the match at half time.
It was more of the same in the third, with a perfect 7/7 shooting performance from the Saints goal shooter pushing them to an 18-19 lead at the final change. Scarlett Padden’s switch to goal attack, replacing Ruby Eppelstun, worked wonders for Metro with Eppelstun’s sticky hands a focal point off centre passes.
With no substitutes and a lack of midcourt rotation, the Revellers might have been forgiven for packing up and going home early. Instead, Maddy Keeping’s pressure, which she is renowned for, went up another level. Captain Zoe Usher and Williams continued to make every pass difficult for the Saints, while Bilyanska and Eppelstun combined for three assists each in the final quarter.
Melissa Jones finished as she started, going 3/3 from the field to finish with 9/11 shooting on the night, but it was Scarlett Padden, the reigning best and fairest, who finished the Saints off for good. The redheaded dynamo willed herself to the front in the circle time and time again, finishing with 7/10 shooting for the quarter.
Padden capped off a brilliant Metro comeback by nailing her seventh and final goal for the quarter with the defense in her face, allowing the Revellers to cruise home with a 27-23 victory.
The win keeps the squad’s slim chances of a finals appearance intact.
Under 17 Division 3
Melissa Jones: 9/11
Scarlett Padden: 13/18
Ruby Eppelstun: 5/10
Lineup: Natalie Williams, Zoe Usher, Maddy Keeping, Darja Bilyanska, Ruby Eppelstun, Scarlett Padden, Melissa Jones
Votes: N. Williams 3 S. Padden 2 D. Bilyanska 1
Under 17 Division 4
Aimee Harris: 10/19
Jessica Nish: 2/4
Lineup: Lucy Beath, Maddy Birrell, Eve Hinchliffe, Jas Synott, Pauline Genreau, Jessica Nish, Aimee Harris
Votes: M. Birrell 3 L. Beath 2 J. Synott 1m