By Jordan Witte
The U17-3 Metro Jets have secured their first points of the season, leading from start to finish against Penola Saints to run away with a 31-5 victory on Tuesday night.
A week after falling agonisingly short against Airport Saints, the junior Jets renewed hostilities with a commanding performance, holding Penola scoreless in the first quarter and only allowing a handful of goals thereafter.
With centre Isabel Leraci (finger) missing through injury, it was hard work for the Jets, with all players required to play four quarters.
Defensively, the Jets were sound. Ella Buck, Sara Abate and a rotating cast of Reese Willder and Maddy Usher in wing defense held the Saints scoreless in the first period, with several umpiring decisions going the way of the Jets.
When the ball did make it to the goal circle, Buck’s defensive pressure stifled the Saints goalers, with the goal keeper not only rebounding well, but distributing the ball effectively to Abate, Willder and Usher.
Leading by seven goals at the first break, Jets coaches Jordan Witte & Kim Dooley urged the formation of good habits.
“When you’re on top, you need to get into good habits. We don’t switch off, we don’t let up. We keep the pressure up, and we keep driving,” Witte said.
The Jets responded with another dominant stanza, adding another eight goals and restricting the Saints to just two for the quarter.
Holly Pugliese turned in a standout game, using her body to sensational effect. Playing on an extremely physical goal keeper, Pugliese employed superior positioning in the goal circle to thwart her opponent time and time again.
The goal shooter ended the game with 22 goals from 27 attempts, shooting at 81%. Her partner-in-crime, Georgia Padden, added 9 goals from 12 attempts.
“We’re pleased with how Holly is developing,” Witte said. “She’s developing that relationship with Georgia [Padden] and they’re both benefiting from knowing each other’s game.”
The Jets scored on 31 of 37 entries into the attacking third, a testament to the efficiency of the passing from the midcourt.
Vice-captain Pauline Genreau played her best game of the season, with precise and direct movement allowing her to consistently get away from her defender.
Genreau’s feeding to goalers has been a focus of her game. The wing attack has shown improvement throughout the season so far, and her passing to Pugliese and Padden showed touch and thought on Tuesday night.
With the result beyond doubt at half time barring a major catastrophe, the Jets maintained a strong level of pressure. Willder, Buck and Abate marshalled their defensive third, while Usher – playing in the unfamiliar position of wing attack – handed out five assists.
In the end, the Jets cruised to a well-earned 26-goal victory – their first of the season.
The team will take a welcome boost in confidence into their next game, where due to a fixturing quirk, they will meet Airport Saints in a rematch of a game played two weeks ago.