By Claire Macuz and Jordan Witte
Metro Jets’ Division 2 team proved they are close to clicking as a squad in a 32-39 loss to Banyule on Tuesday night.
Banyule came out hard, managing to break away to a 0-4 lead within the opening five minutes, before goal shooter Haylee Wilcox got the Jets on the board following a blistering combination of drives from centre Jacky Rooney and wing attack Kali Fraser.
Missing starting goal keeper Clare Johnson, the Jets’ depleted defense lined up with Courtney Czak, a trained midcourter, in goal keeper. With her size being a visible difference to the Jets’ usual towering bookends, Czak held her own against a similarly sized goal shooter for Banyule and continued to develop her relationship in the circle with fellow defender Gina Blake.
Arabella Williams provided some relief in the defensive half of the mid court, aiding Blake and Czak with hands over pressure. The trio desperately tried to create some momentum for the Jets, striding down the court and delivering the ball to the Jets’ attackers with precision.
Long shots and missed opportunities were the story of the first term, with the Jets going in at the first break 2-9 down.
Enter Kathryn Hard.
Experience. Body. And power.
The second quarter automatically turned heads. Hard and subbed-on wing attack Jess Hogan attacked strongly, showing their relationship and experience in playing together. Hard held her position for a lob over her opponent. Hogan completed said pass with finesse and precision.
It was a game-plan change that was much needed for the Jets.
Coach Ferruccio Servello implored his players to set up the ‘five’ zone defense at every available opportunity. It worked.
Defensive pressure was on. Hard and goal attack Elle Kamay started to provide results, and the Jets were coming.
Rooney started to fly down the court and provide her run and carry with Fraser, and the Jets hit the board strongly with three unanswered goals to take the score to 7-9.
As the main break loomed, the Jets were beginning to gel and headed into half time 12-16.
“We have got to be loud and we have got to run hard,” Servello demanded.
The second half began much like the first, except the Jets managed to stay with Banyule all through the court as well as on the scoreboard. Hard controlled the goal circle and started rebounding like she was writing the textbook on it.
With Banyule breaking away with multiple long shots to take the lead to six, Servello requested one-on-one pressure and harder drives to the ball.
Despite Hard continuing with her strong performance down one end, Banyule’s goal attack remained as the player to beat down the other, increasing her team’s lead even further to ten goals.
The last quarter showed patches of brilliance, yet it seemed inevitable that the end score would not reflect the hard effort by the Jets.
A late defensive surge by the Jets’ midcourt caused a turnover by Banyule, through Williams and four late goals brought the difference to seven at the final siren.
Servello noted that his team needed a stronger opening quarter to either break away from weaker teams, or in this week’s case, go with the stronger ones.
“We lost it in the first quarter when we were unable to penetrate the goal third,” he said.
“Only six entries into the goal third was inadequate. Our goalers need to score heavily to get us off to the good start that we are lacking at the moment, and that comes from proper delivery first and foremost,” Servello added.
With a bye next week, the Jets will need to return strongly against Westside who are currently sitting above the Jets in eighth position, and start to get results on the board.