by Jordan Witte
After plenty of back-and-forth about whether it was safe to proceed with the game, the U17-1 Metro Jets squad was handed a 17-27 defeat by DC Force on a rainy Tuesday night.
With rain falling intermittently pre-game, during the warm-up, and during the game itself, the safety of the playing surface was questioned by the coaches, as several girls struggled to retain their footing in the pre-game warm-ups.
The show must go on, however, and so it was with instructions and a revised game plan that the Jets took to the court against fourth-placed DC Force.
With a full roster to pick from, coaches Jordan Witte and Kim Dooley had high hopes for the squad, and their start was bright enough. The Jets began arguably the stronger of the two teams, working the ball down the court but failing to convert their opportunities.
With wing attack Darja Bilyanska’s patient style of play perfect for the wet conditions, and centre Lucy Beath’s physicality proving a point of difference for the Jets, the signs were good in the first quarter of the game, as DC matched the Jets’ level of intensity.
The return of Bela Hartman from illness and her pairing with defensive dynamo Nat Williams, and the reliability of defenders Zoe Usher and Alix Colafella, meant the Jets were well placed.
Colafella, who by now must feel as though Groundhog Day is every Tuesday, was again matched up with a towering goal shooter, while Usher was forced to play a tagging role on her opponent, as DC pushed their goal attack into the play up the court.
As the match wore on, however, it was clear the Force were adapting to the conditions faster. The rain continued falling in spurts, and the Force cleaned up their ball movement as a result.
Boasting yet another get-out-of-jail goaler, the Force utilised the lob pass at every opportunity. Despite stellar efforts from Colafella, the pass came off time and time again, with easy goals the result, and an ever-increasing lead.
The Jets put everything into coming back, with Chanel Romeo and Latesha Hardaway making the most of limited opportunities. Hardaway was trialled in goal attack for three quarters and was largely effective.
Through the midcourt, Williams steadied the ship with crucial intercepts, while Beath sent a scare through the Jets camp after landing heavily on her tailbone after leaping for an interception. The centre played out the game under some discomfort, but should be available for selection this week.
While the loss is hard to take, it’s important to note that under the conditions, it was a decent performance from the Jets. Romeo and Hardaway shot at 68% in rainy conditions, while the Jets generated 34 entries into their goal third.
In future weeks, turning those entries into goals will be a crucial part of changing the fortunes of the Jets.