by Jordan Witte, Claire Macuz & Salv Lupone
Getting to the top of the ladder is hard. Staying there is harder.
With Metro’s most junior U15 side clinging to their spot in first place on the ladder, and second-placed Keilor East nipping at their heels, nothing short of a win against a high-powered Hadfield offense would do on Thursday night.
In the end, it was a four-goal-to-zero last quarter, spearheaded by Emma Robertson, newcomer Emma Birrell and VCNA tournament representative Eloise Barnwell, that dragged the Jets over the line.
The Jets had sent Zoe Rowan-Paul and Barnwell to the VCNA tournament, and both returned with intent, as Barnwell and Malia Kroger formed a formidable defensive pairing for four quarters.
Coach Kim Dooley – not coaching against Hadfield – had worked with Rowan-Paul on her confidence and shooting ability. The old maxim is that “shooters shoot”, and Rowan-Paul put an ankle injury at the VCNA tournament behind her to shoot at an astounding 100% over the course of four quarters.
The first quarter belonged to Molly Robertson, who teamed up with team newbie Daisy Graham to provide Rowan-Paul with silver service. The Jets headed into the first break with a slight two-goal advantage.
Hadfield have the highest scoring offense in the competition, having been the only side to crash through the 100-goals-scored barrier as yet. They put their devastating attacking prowess to good use in the second quarter, as Olivia Petrolo kept Hadfield within touching distance.
Four goals apiece kept the lead to two, as the two sides gave nothing away.
It was Rowan-Paul’s third quarter which broke the defiant Hadfield side, as the goaler simply took over. She scored five goals from five attempts, ably assisted by Emma Robertson.
In defense, Emma Naso – the third of three Emmas to take the court for the Jets – controlled her third with aplomb, while Kroger and Barnwell shut Hadfield and Petrolo down at crucial moments to increase the Jets’ lead to three at the final break.
It was coaches Lee Harris & Salv Lupone’s urging for their charges to “finish the job” that dominated the three-quarter-time break, and it was the defense which got the job done.
Birrell slotted seamlessly into centre, replacing an exhausted Molly Robertson. Robertson moved to wing defense, while Barnwell and Kroger went to work shutting down the dangerous Hadfield offense at every opportunity.
Conceding just 11 goals for the match (Hadfield’s lowest total all season), the Jets piled on four goals of their own to run away with a convincing seven goal win.
With a match-up against eighth-placed Moomba Park on Thursday, the Jets will be looking to consolidate their position on top of the pile, as they charge to a potential finals berth at the end of the season.
Editor’s note: Thanks to Salv Lupone, Lee Harris and Kim Dooley, we’ll now be doing our best to bring match reports from all U15 games as often as possible. We don’t get to see every game, every week, so the work of everyone at Metro to provide us with information from all our players’ games, both old and young, is greatly appreciated. It also means we can cover more games, more often, and gives the players the opportunity to read about themselves and their teammates.