Chasing their second win in two games for the first time in several seasons, the Metro Jets Division 5 side has stumbled at the crucial hurdle, going down to Essendon Thunder 16-30 on Tuesday night.
Lapses throughout the game cost the Jets, with Essendon reeling off runs of seven and eight unanswered goals in the first and second quarters, and adding an unanswered stretch of six goals in the last period to close out the game.
Coach John Macuz lamented the loss of momentum in the second quarter, which he claimed turned the game.
“We rushed it in the second quarter. We had excellent work rate and speed throughout the court, and just turned it over too many times at crucial periods,” Macuz said after the game.
At 5-5 in the first quarter, with goalers Holly Rothnie and Camryn Edwards shooting at high percentages, the assembled Jets crowd could have been forgiven for getting their hopes up.
The experienced Thunder side quickly put paid to their hopes. Boasting a representative-level goaler and bigger bodies around the court, they punished several Jets misses by scoring at the other end, heading into the first break with the last seven goals of the quarter.
Despite Metro scoring the first two goals of the second quarter, momentarily reducing the lead to four, Essendon piled on the pressure, adding eight goals in a row.
Defenders Georgia Rajic and Hannah Dale fought valiantly, but the result felt pre-ordained as even clever Metro deflections found their way into Essendon hands.
As the Thunder relaxed with a 13-goal lead, the Jets threatened to make the game interesting as Tessa Schurmann, Chelsea Hofman and Emily Aitken fed Rothnie & Edwards to contribute to a run of five goals.
It would be the last real threat to Essendon’s lead, as the more experienced Thunder ran away with the game, scoring nine of the last 12 goals.
In a disappointed locker room after the game, Macuz heaped praise on his players despite the result.
“I don’t necessarily care if you lost tonight. That’s a team with very good goalers, and they’re a benchmark of the competition,” Macuz said.
“You showed great spirit to stick it out. That doesn’t feel like a 14-goal loss.”
The coaching staff was at pains to point out the team’s work rate, which never dropped off.
“Massive credit for sticking it out,” Macuz said. “We need to remember to stay loud in the last quarter when it’s not going our way. We need to stay switched on.”
Division 5 falls to 1-2 on the season, with a game against Hadfield up next.