By Claire Macuz
When you come up against the best, you have to beat them at their own game.
St. Theresa’s are currently sitting top of the ladder, undefeated, with a percentage of 175%, 209 goals scored for and only 62 goals scored against.
When you come up against St Theresa’s, if you don’t even compete, they will make sure you know who you played and exactly how they managed to beat you so badly, that they leave a lingering effect.
Accuracy, power and clean balls. They excel at the basics. They bury you in the basics.
When you come up against St Theresa’s, you have to perform to get close.
Lining up with two crucial fill-ins, Jess De Neef and Heidi Macuz, who were relieving missing players Hannah Dale and Jenna Dean, the Jets managed to take it to St Theresa’s despite losing 33-20.
The first term began similarly to this past summer – quite slow, that is – with the Jets yielding to the immense pressure of their opposition. Countless overshot passes, steps and missed opportunities were beginning to take hold of the Jets’ midcourt, and it seemed as though this match would proceed down the path of every other where St Theresa’s create a ‘training run’ out of their win.
Coach John Macuz was unimpressed with the quarter, saying that the opposition walked all over them.
“We just couldn’t get going,” Macuz noted.
“It’s so important to have a good start against a team like this, and we didn’t really touch the ball.”
After a few key changes, co-captain Emily Aitken switched into centre to provide some necessary run through the middle into the attacking third, enabling the Jets to play a cleaner game and deliver the ball to their goalers at a faster rate.
Goal attack Heidi Macuz turned up the heat, and goal shooter Camryn Edwards followed suit, shooting four goals apiece. The Jets not only began to increase their entries into the circle, but were able to severely restrict St Theresa’s shots on goal, scoring five from six opportunities.
Different types of pressure were key factors in the big quarter from the Jets, utilising both a one on one pressure system as well as a high court press.
Coining the phrase Team Pressure Acts (TPA), Coach Macuz highly regards pressure of this nature. The Jets, through the defensive pressure of Tessa Schurmann and Chelsea Hoffman, managed to endure the intensity from St Theresa’s, and deliver their coach five TPAs for the match.
The ‘five’ zone that the Jets implemented was able to slow St Theresa’s scoring pace, and consequently saw the score sit at 11-17 going in to the main break.
Co-captain Emily Aitken commented on the standard that the opposition had set in the first half.
“St Theresa’s has set the standard for the season already tonight, and although we gave them a run for their money in the second quarter, it will be tough to reach that standard,” Aitken said.
Imploring his team to shorten the passes and slow down the ball, coach Macuz requested his team to lift.
The third quarter explored the term of utter brilliance from youngster Holly Rothnie. Playing as a regular goaler through the season, the addition of H. Macuz enabled Rothnie to expand her capabilities and move to wing defense.
Off the first play of the second half, Rothnie delivered the first of many intercepts, driving hard on the inside and stretching far in front of her opponent, to clutch the ball with two hands. Textbook intercept.
Coach Macuz believes wing defense is one of her strongest positions, and would move her there permanently if he had a replacement goaler.
“[Holly] creates magic in wing defense. She drives hard, and gets the ball back into our hands more often which is what we need,” Macuz said.
Getting to within four points during the quarter, the goalers moved efficiently and were slotting shots from all areas of the circle. The Jets were developing a rhythm and slowly increasing their defensive pressure, causing turnovers from St Theresa’s.
As the break materialized in front of the teams, St Theresa’s lifted and piled on four unanswered goals to take an eight-point lead heading into the final term.
The last quarter required extensive mental strength – something that St Theresa’s is renowned for. Something that the Jets are yet to learn.
Taking the quarter’s intensity up another notch yet again, St Theresa’s scored seven goals to the Jets’ two.
In a characteristic loss for the Jets, the team was asked to learn and improve from the experience, rather than leave the stadium and the thoughts of the game with it.
“Self-analysis is required to develop as a team, and as an individual,” Coach Macuz said in his post-match chat with the team.
“We had twenty-six turnovers tonight. You can’t afford that many in any game, especially against a team like St Theresa’s. We have to rectify those statistics to improve.”
Aitken believes strongly in positive energy and alongside co-captain Georgia Rajic, they aim to raise their team’s standard of skill and ability to win.
“We still have a lot to learn, but when we do, and we will learn, we will be the ones setting the standard,” Aitken and Rajic concluded.
The Jets line up against second-position WP Lakeside in two weeks’ time, after a bye next week. The rest will allow the Jets to work closely on those statistics with two training sessions in between those matches, and come out firing in their match against the final of the top four sides.