By Jordan Witte and Claire Macuz
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The Metro Jets U17-2 side has broken through for their first win of the season, handling Craigieburn by 11 goals on Tuesday night, as Bec Stingel put in a best-on-court performance.
After a stunning first quarter, where the Jets scored 12 goals to Craigieburn’s five, albeit against six players, the Jets were well placed. With only Leah Cheevers and Maddy Birrell unavailable, the Jets enjoyed an almost full-strength side.
Anushka Sadler exploded out of the blocks, thoroughly dominating the game. The goaler has had encouraging performances in the last few weeks without putting it all together for four quarters, but the dam wall well and truly burst on Tuesday night.
The Jets employed a patient style of ball movement, at the urging of their coaches, and put the focus on working the ball into the goal circle. Bec Stingel, working herself into exhaustion, handing out a scarcely believable assist to Sadler’s partner in crime, Aimee Harris.
Everything seemed to be working for the Jets, as they took advantage of the extra player, with Alicia Lupone and Stingel taking it in turns to assist their goalers.
Craigieburn managed to break Metro’s “Five” zone to score their fifth goal of the quarter, before Sadler – first from hard work, then from a rebound – scored the last two goals of the quarter to extend the lead to seven.
Coinciding with the arrival of Craigieburn’s starting centre, Stingel took herself off with an upset stomach. Ketria Wood, in her second game after returning from injury, was slotted nicely into goal defense, as Charlotte Caldow was pushed further up the court into wing defense.
As their centre settled into the game, Craigieburn began to work their way back into the contest. Looking by far the fresher side, they put together three goals in a row to reduce the margin to just four, halfway through the second quarter.
Sadler halted their momentum, sinking two goals in a row, before Craigieburn answered to send the sides to the main break with the Jets leading by four.
Coaches Jordan Witte & Kim Dooley warned their squad off complacency at the long break.
“If you let them, they will take this game from your hands,” Witte said. “Do not let that happen. Go back to basics, be methodical and smart.”
Stingel was re-introduced as a defensive centre, assigned the role of cutting Craigieburn’s centre out of the game, while Tayla Burr – fresh from her own stint in centre – took a well-earned rest.
What followed was as clinical as the Jets have been all season. Harris scored seven goals, while Sadler added three; Lupone tacked on an assist, and Wood and Bongrain controlled their defensive circle amicably. Bongrain in particular halted several Craigieburn attacks through sheer positioning alone, as her opponent’s drives faltered on the edge of the circle.
But it was Stingel’s defensive pressure that turned the game for the Jets. Craigieburn’s centre, previously so dangerous, had almost no impact on the third quarter. Stingel had three assists of her own in the quarter, as the Jets piled on 10 goals to Craigieburn’s one to effectively kill the contest.
With the result basically a formality, the Jets could’ve been forgiven for taking the foot off the pedal. Instead, Burr opened the quarter by taking an intercept in the midcourt, before Sadler put one in from Steph Curry range to give the Jets a 14-goal lead.
Stingel, apparently not content with her third quarter shutout of Craigieburn’s centre, had two intercepts in the early stages as the toll of a fast-paced game started to set in.
To Craigieburn’s credit, they scored the next four goals to reduce the margin to 10, before Sadler and Harris – either side of two sensational defensive efforts from Wood – added two goals each to break the 30-goal barrier and seal the victory.
Their first win of the season in the books, the Jets will get the opportunity to push further up the ladder against Sunbury this coming Tuesday night.