by Jordan Witte & Claire Macuz
Despite a 21-34 loss to DC Force on Tuesday night, the Division 4 Metro Jets squad remains in touch for a spot in the finals, sitting in equal fifth position after 5 games.
The Jets’ goalers started like a house on fire, with captain and co-coach Megg Ryan scoring five goals in the first quarter. Paynton Jolliffe added a couple of goals as the two goalers enjoyed freedom of movement in the circle.
Jolliffe and Ryan made the most of a slow start from their midcourt, taking advantage of nearly all their goal circle entries. Vice-captain Alanna Macuz started in wing defense, showing trademark aggression and defensive instincts to put the clamps on DC’s wing attack, while Ally Brown and Gabby Bassi, in centre and wing attack respectively, did their best to feed the ball to Ryan and Jolliffe.
Macuz and Bassi were switched to start the second quarter, with the change designed to take advantage of Bassi’s supreme defensive work and utilise Macuz’s creativity.
Coach Ferruccio Servello specifically requested Macuz’s presence be felt further deeper in defense when the Jets were on the rebound, asking for the wing attack to push past the centre circle and participate in bringing the ball down the court.
The DC goalers took advantage of their experience, using their bodies and every trick in the book to best position themselves against Mikayla Johnston-Bailey and Jess de Neef, the latter returning from some time out to fill in for the Jets.
Johnston-Bailey and de Neef worked hard, but fantastic accuracy from the Force goalers meant rebounding opportunities were few and far between throughout the game.
Jolliffe and Ryan’s first quarter couldn’t be replicated, as Ryan’s shot went awry and the opportunities for Jolliffe dried up.
The Jets improved markedly in the third quarter, as Bassi replaced Brown in centre, with Brown taking a well-earned rest after running herself ragged. Bassi threw herself at everything in an attacking performance in centre, with the Jets squad attempting to move the ball to the top of the circle in a methodical fashion.
Ryan’s attempts at clearing space for Jolliffe almost went unnoticed as the goalers struggled for fluency. The DC defenders cleared the ball from their defensive third with ease, putting pressure on Bassi and Macuz in the midcourt, and exposing Johnston-Bailey, de Neef and Ally Blease in defense with quick ball movement.
Despite all that, Jolliffe did her best to keep the Jets in touch, with a patch of three unanswered goals dragging the squad to within four goals, before DC regained control.
Facing a deficit at the last change, the Jets swapped Macuz for Brown, with a message to continue the aggressive, methodical style of netball.
The centre toiled hard for the entire quarter as the Jets struggled to maintain the rage, losing their aggression and focus as the quarter wore on.
Affected by some questionable umpiring decisions, and the ever-widening gap between the two sides, the Jets couldn’t stem the flow of DC goals, with the second-placed, well drilled Force squad running away with the win.
“I genuinely didn’t think we played that badly,” said co-coach Claire Macuz. “I don’t think the score reflects the result. It’s the team’s first game without Heidi [Macuz, who suffered an ACL injury on Monday], and [Ryan and Jolliffe] are going to take time to get used to each other.”
“DC just didn’t miss; they’re so well drilled from front to back, they’re pretty flawless.”
The Jets will get a chance to put their season back on track against winless Eastside in their next hit-out.