By Jordan Witte
A desperate last quarter flurry was not enough to separate the U17-2 Metro Jets and Avondale Heights Netball Club, as the two sides played out a breathless 24-24 draw on Tuesday night.
With time running out in the last quarter, Metro goalers Aimee Harris and Louisa Bongrain had several chances to put the Jets in front for good, but could not capitalise on some outstanding offensive rebounding.
Similarly, Avondale Heights had two shots on goal with barely seconds left that would’ve won the game, but defensive pressure from Charlotte Caldow and Maddy Birrell meant the attempts barely rimmed out, leaving the scores tied.
Chasing their first win for the season, the signs were extremely positive for the Jets early, as they came out firing in the first quarter.
Harris scored four of the first five goals of the game, while Anushka Sadler added another, to give the Jets a four goal in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, Bongrain and Caldow held down the defensive positions, with Bongrain using her long arms to great effect to steal away two interceptions in the opening minutes.
After the coaching staff had put a focus on increasing the team’s voice and presence around the court at training, it was noticeably louder on Tuesday night.
Heights would fight their way back into the match, but the opening minutes of the first quarter gave the Jets all the confidence the needed.
Mid-courters Alicia Lupone, Bec Stingel and Tayla Burr continued their integration into a new team, with Lupone and Stingel passing brilliantly to the goalers and Burr creating havoc in wing defense.
No amount of work could put separation between the Jets and Heights, however, as the teams remained locked together at half time.
Sadler and Harris continued to work well together, with Harris’ leadership on court and movement in the goal circle a welcome highlight for the coaching staff.
Sadler gets better every week, and should take confidence from her accurate shooting against a dogged Heights defense.
With the scores still tied at three quarter time, coach Kim Dooley turned the line-up on its head, taking Sadler off, switching Bongrain to GS, Birrell to GD and moving Caldow to GK to give the squad more run through the court.
It almost worked.
Everything the Jets did, Heights had an answer for. Harris scored to give the Jets the lead, but Heights answered back. Birrell snagged an intercept, but Bongrain couldn’t convert at the other end.
Lupone, who looked more settled at this level, controlled the midcourt with Stingel and avoided crowding each other’s space.
The game came down to the final seconds, with Harris missing two shots in a row, before Bongrain grabbed the ensuing rebound but couldn’t finish.
Heights moved the ball down the court; before pressure from Birrell and Caldow forced an agonizingly close miss. There might’ve been time for one more attack, but the siren put an end to the game.
After just barely missing out on the win, the Jets can take multiple positives from the game.
On-court leadership flourished, the team’s chemistry has improved, and players are beginning to gel.
The Jets will take to the court next week against Airport Saints, still chasing their first win. After Tuesday night’s performance, they can be confident that it’s not far away.