by Jordan Witte & Claire Macuz
After a tough stretch of six losses in a row, it would be fair to say that the Division 5 Metro Jets squad’s season hasn’t gone as well as they could’ve hoped.
A combination of injuries to key attacking players and squad leaders, plus a severe lack of height in key defensive posts, has meant that the Jets have struggled to contain taller goalers – Lakeside’s monstrous GS the obvious example.
But against Northern Panthers on Tuesday night, it was the Jets – benefitting from a bye in Division 6 – that turned the tables on the competition, adding taller goaler Melissa Jones and springy defensive player Tristan Comans to their line-up.
The boost in height at either end of the court worked brilliantly, as the Jets rode a defensively strict first half and a balanced shooting effort across four quarters to an 18-23 victory, their second of the season.
For Jones in particular, her first start at Division 5 level will be especially sweet. The 19-year-old has developed through Metro’s junior pathways, and earned her spot in Division 6 for this season. Her promotion was a reward for outstanding form and the need for some extra height in the Division 5 side.
She certainly took her opportunity with both hands, scoring early and often in the first half, working well with former junior teammate Holly Rothnie to contribute 15 goals in the first half.
While Jones and Rothnie were wreaking havoc in attack, the second quarter’s more balanced effort across the court was the killer blow against the Panthers.
Taking a three goal lead into the second stanza, the Jets’ defenders Georgia Rajic, Hannah Dale and Tristan Comans held the Panthers to just two goals for the quarter. Despite the side’s forays through the midcourt lacking structure, the midcourt – Tessa Schurmann and Asha Roche – were able to provide Jones and Rothnie with enough opportunities to score nine goals in the period.
Chelsea Hofman has been thrown around position-wise, playing a little of everything as needed. In wing attack for the majority of the game, Hofman’s movement shone brightest as she caused confusion on the circle edge in the third quarter, cashing in on her time and space to find Rothnie and Jones in great positions.
It wouldn’t be all the Jets’ way, as the Panthers rallied to score seven goals in the third quarter and give themselves a glimmer of hope, down just seven at the final change.
With co-captain Emily Aitken out injured, Rajic has assumed a larger leadership role, and the defender’s vocal approach to the game has pleased her coaches no end. Marshalling her troops in the last quarter, the GK worked well with Comans, who vastly improved his body-on-body pressure to shut the Panthers down.
Roche, still sporting the throwback long socks, held down the lynchpin position in centre, while Schurmann’s defensive pressure in WD was excellent.
After the brutal second quarter, not even a 8-13 second half from the Panthers could reel in the Jets, who romped to their second victory of the season. The win is an important one for morale, as the Jets seek to improve their ladder position through the second half of the season.