By Claire Macuz and Jordan Witte
Timing is key in any sport. From the word go, right down to the release of the ball.
On Tuesday night, the Metro Revellers Division 6 side implemented defence in numbers in a four goal loss to third-placed Doncaster and District, 29-33.
It has been evident that the squad and coach Claire Macuz have worked extremely hard on consistency and fluency through the court systems and defensive set-ups. Seen in patches over the season, the consistency has struggled to come together all at once.
Going into the match, it was unlikely the Revellers would make the cut for finals in three weeks’ time, after their crucial 12-goal loss to Park Panthers Central Lynx last week.
With the focus for Macuz to be on pressure and precision, the Revellers took the court ready to rumble. However, they were seemingly unprepared for the onslaught of Doncaster’s goalers.
The young Revellers line-up stood side-by-side as the starting siren went, and were towered over by their Doncaster opponents. With two new additions to the squad this week (Scarlett Padden and Darja Bilyanska), the Revellers struggled to find fluid movements down the court and consequently struggled to deliver the ball to goalers Ella Hayes and Holly Rothnie.
The turnovers killed the Revellers throughout the game, with eight in the first quarter alone, and at the first break they went in trailing Doncaster 6-10.
The star Under 17s player was brought up due to low numbers and did everything she could to force the coaches to think about moving her up next season.
Led by captain and centre Tessa Schurmann, Padden provided movement, allowing the game to open up by directing classy ball deliveries to both goalers. Her passing resulted in three direct assists and numerous entries into the circle.
Schurmann, moved from wing defence into centre at the first break, was enigmatic, and lost her opposing centre to gain five goal assists of her own. Creating plays from the defensive third and carrying the ball directly to the top of the goal circle was automatically evident with Schurmann in centre and is something that is being instilled in players right across the club.
With the developing partnership between Padden and Schurmann controlling the centre-court, the Revellers were able to gain insight into how the Doncaster defenders would react under a constant influx of ball deliveries.
Their response? Physicality.
Hayes and Rothnie were both progressively knocked down by their defenders, but each shot at 100% for the term, and put to rest any thoughts that Doncaster’s physicality would get to them.
17-year-old Hayes controlled the goal circle with ease, directing her wings and continuing to develop a partnership with her younger counterpart Rothnie. While the fluency between the two may not have been as pronounced as coach Macuz would have liked, it was evident that Hayes was trying to implement more movement into her game.
The second half started with a bang after three unanswered Doncaster goals and left the Revellers with a five-goal deficit to chase down.
Rothnie and youngster Bilyanska turned on the burners, with Rothnie scoring five from five attempts for the term. Seasoned leader Maddie Agius delivered the ball to Rothnie four times, all opportunities which were converted. With a deflection to her name, Agius provided an additional layer of experience for Hayes in the attacking end.
Doncaster extended their lead by seven goals to take control of the game mid-way through the term, only to have the Revellers claw their way back to get within four goals going into the final break.
Coach Macuz implored her players to show some fight in the last quarter and continue putting their bodies on the line.
The Revellers came hard in the final term, scoring two quick goals from a centre pass and a pivotal intercept from Schurmann, to take the score to 22-24. Doncaster were cat-like, ready to pounce, and took the game to the next level – their experience paying off – almost out of reach for the young Revellers.
With just minutes’ left in the match, Doncaster led a seemingly defunct Revellers 25-32.
Wing defence Georgia Tymms added to her already impressive statistics of three intercepts and six deflections, with another vital intercept in the last. The intercept was converted into a goal by Hayes and saw a rise in the spirits of the Revellers.
They came again. Hard.
Both Molly Brown and Georgia Rajic controlled the defensive circle, with seven rebounds between them.
Scoring an unanswered four goals, the Revellers managed to coordinate their leads and release the pass without hesitation. Padden, who was moved into goal attack at the last break, provided a voice in the attacking third and vacated the goal circle many-a-time to give Hayes space to work with.
Scoring eight from 12 attempts, Hayes dominated and showed a never-say-die attitude. Hard running, one-on-one defence and creative thinking resonated through the team.
Although Metro worked hard to pull back the lead, Doncaster were too strong for the inexperienced Revellers, winning 29-33.
The Revellers must take positives from the season and especially this game – they are hard workers when they put it all together at the one time.
Timing is always key.
Lineup: E. Hayes, H. Rothnie, S. Padden, D.Bilyanska, M. Agius, T. Schurmann, G. Timms, G. Rajic, M. Brown
Holly Rothnie 12/13
Ella Hayes 16/23
Scarlett Padden 1/3
Votes: T. Schurmann 3 G. Timms 2 H. Rothnie 1