by Jordan Witte, Claire Macuz & Salv Lupone
Against the miserly defense of the East Keilor Firebirds, the Metro Jets have found a way to put up a winning score, dropping 24 goals on the way to a 15-goal victory on Thursday night.
The Firebirds have conceded just 78 goals this season, which is comparable to the Jets (72) and second-placed Darebin (71), but have struggled to score themselves. They sit fifth, which indicates the way to beat them is to find a way through their stout defense and limit the amount of ball they’re capable of getting to their goalers.
It was with this mindset that the top-placed Jets entered their seventh game of the year, with the young group attempting to concrete themselves on top of the ladder.
After the coaching staff had spent time teaching the next wave of Metro juniors the preferred structure both at training and in games, the Jets began the game employing everything they’d learnt, as the Firebirds were powerless to hold back Emma Robertson.
“Her best shooting game of the season,” coach Kim Dooley muttered from the sideline as Robertson put the Firebirds on ice, presenting on multiple leads and draining five goals for the quarter. In goal attack, Bella Cavallo returned from camp and immediately set about using her physicality to snag centre passes, while Molly Robertson put in a typically tireless performance, zipping around the court.
Up seven goals to two at the first break, Emma Robertson continued wrecking shop in the second quarter. Connecting on another four goals, Robertson finished the good work of her midcourt, as Sofia Abate – introduced at the break – put the burners on, outworking her opponents through sheer pace.
Malia Kroger and Emma Naso have developed a steady partnership in defense, with Kroger’s instincts and intercepting ability a very influential part of the team. Naso won’t ever be the flashiest player in the side, but she gets the job done, and the two held Keilor East to just a solitary goal for the quarter, while the Jets added five.
These Jets are built on the back of reliability. If you need a player to step up and provide an effort, there’s always a willing contributor. Whether Eloise Barnwell’s unwavering influence in WD, or captain Molly Robertson’s leading by example in the centre court, Zoe Rowan-Paul’s developing versatility through unfamiliar positions or Cavallo’s steady hand as a goal shooter, it’s always next girl up for the Jets.
With each part of the machine working in tandem, Metro added another five goals for the quarter, as Emma Robertson continued to wreak havoc. The Firebirds eked out four, with the margin at the final change 10 goals.
After a rev-up from coaches Dooley and Harris, the Jets finished what they started in the final quarter. Any hopes of an East Keilor comeback were quickly snuffed out as Emma Robertson went about chiselling her name into the best-on-ground slot, scoring all seven Metro goals in the final quarter.
Kroger and Naso’s mean defense held the Firebirds to just two goals, with the Jets running out winners 24-9. The 24 goals contributed will add up to roughly 30 percent of the goals conceded by the Firebirds for the entire season, a testament to both their defense so far and the scoring ability of the Jets, led by Emma Robertson.
Perched on top, the Jets will take on Essendon Thunder next up, this Thursday night.