By Claire Macuz and Jordan Witte
Heading into the third round, the Metro Jets were struggling to find form and consistency due to numerous new faces in the lineup for the squad.
After a solid opening minute in this week’s match against Banyule, it seemed that the Jets were about to find that form.
Heidi Macuz, starting goal attack for the Jets, slotted two medium-range shots on goal in her first two touches and started writing the words to the story that the Jets seemed about to embark on.
The midcourt for the Jets was urged by coaches Megg Ryan and Claire Macuz to provide evidently more pressure over the ball than what had been seen in the previous rounds. It would further enable the Jets’ defenders to pick off long balls being thrown in to the Banyule goalers, and provide more opportunities for the Jets’ attackers to deliver the ball into their attacking third.
Banyule had different ideas.
Playing with goalers on who lacked height, their precision and percentage of shots on goal was second to none, and demanded more than just height to defeat them.
Katrina Mullumby, Ally Blease and Mikayla Johnston-Bailey, defensive trio for the Jets, provided a structure that mixed it up, and didn’t allowed a predictable lineup that the Banyule goalers could get used to.
Yet, the Banyule goal shooter’s speed and split in the goal circle crushed any chance that the Jets had of taking the lead.
Ally Brown, after a quiet first few rounds, created, designed and demanded the ball in wing defense for the Jets, delivering the ball to her attackers and forcing her opposing wing attack to work overtime to receive passes.
Channeling her opponent to the sideline, Brown developed her defensive game further and provided some much needed structure and reassurance in the defensive half for the Jets.
At the first break, the Jets followed Banyule 6-10 and after a few lineup changes, took the court in the second term with newcomer Paynton Jolliffe in goals.
Jolliffe struggled to gel with her teammates in her first game last week, yet development and incremental improvement – regardless of how much – was what coach Ryan wanted to see.
“It is going to take time for her to be able to fit seamlessly into this team – it does for any player coming to a new club – but she is working hard and listening and that’s all that we can ask for,” Ryan said.
Jolliffe and H. Macuz provided some much needed run to the attacking third, with wing attack Bec Francis sliding into the combination fluently, however, conversion was lacking for the Jets.
For the first half, the Jets scored eleven goals from nineteen shots, while Banyule scored eighteen from twenty-four.
With the second half looming, the Jets needed a burst of run and a run of goals, despite the low shooting percentage from the first half.
Mullumby, playing in goal defense, despite the continual influx of ball deliveries coming her way, decimated her opponent’s potential opportunities with eight intercepts for the match.
When playing hard netball, one-on-one defense was the way to go for the Jets, and midcourters Alanna Macuz and Gabby Bassi provided body strength and hands over the ball.
Yet Banyule competed hard for each ball and converted in ways that the Jets struggled to.
Three quarter time saw the Jets sitting on 15/31 goals and Banyule 23/33.
Coach Macuz implored her team to drive harder and stronger, eliminating any 50/50 contests and delivering the ball to our goalers more often, ensuring that Banyule didn’t have an easy win on their hands.
The last term delivered what coaches Ryan and C. Macuz ordered – strength, pace and constant delivery. Whilst they only shot at 55% for the quarter, the movement between Jolliffe and H. Macuz seemed fluent and was noted by the coaches as a work in progress with a good base of skill and knowledge to improve from.
The Jets trailed Banyule at the final siren 20-29, and coach Ryan wasn’t too disappointed with the match, noting that there are improvements to make, but that the squad has finals potential.
“If we can gel and work together on improving each week, and accepting and adapting to each new player, we have the opportunity and the talent to go far,” Ryan said.
“Our goalers need to work on increasing their shooting percentage, but other than that, I think we can take good things from that game. Our intensity was incredible in comparison to last week, and our pressure over the ball was an improvement in a high pressure situation that demanded perfection,” added C. Macuz.
“We have a fair way to go, but I believe we can make it work. I’m excited for what is to come,” C. Macuz concluded.
The Jets come up against Bayside next week, who are sitting just above the Jets on the ladder, and are seeking another win to take them to even numbers – two wins and two losses.