by Jordan Witte & Claire Macuz
A severe shortage of players, combined with literally no players to pick from that had ever played a single match in either goal attack or goal shooter, was the catalyst for a 3-26 loss to Lakeside for the Metro Jets U17-3 side on Tuesday night.
With only five available players, and a dearth of fill-ins available, the Jets were forced to take the court with only Isabel Ieraci, Pauline Genreau, Ella Buck, Maddie Usher and Sara Abate. Only Ieraci and Genreau could reliably be classed as attacking-minded players, but with Buck the only “tall” player on court, goals were always going to hard to come by for the Jets.
Coach Jordan Witte attempted to utilise the side’s strength – defense – by playing his five players in GK, GD, WD, C and GA. Sara Abate took the coveted GA bib for the first quarter, and the defensively strengthened line-up against Lakeside worked. Briefly.
A full-strength line-up against Lakeside would have been nice. But – crazily – on the one night Lakeside had a shortage of players – just six – Metro had one less. The result was aesthetically sub-optimal netball, as Lakeside steadily built a lead throughout the first half.
The Jets didn’t do much wrong, they just didn’t have the players. Witte rotated his players through the goaling position, changing to a GK-GD-C-GA-GS set-up at the half, but it didn’t fare much better, as Lakeside continued to take advantage of their extra player.
A hard fall for Lakeside’s centre in the third quarter took the player from the court, turning the game into a bizarre version of Fast Five netball. Five-on-five, the game opened up massively, but the damage was done.
Coach Witte was apologetic after the game, mentioning the search for players and its ineffectiveness.
“I want to apologise, and so does [coach] Kim [Dooley]. It’s not good enough from our side of things. But you learn from games like this, more so than your wins. I’m proud of all of you for turning up and giving it everything,” Witte said.
Arguably the most frustrating aspect of the game was the timing. The Jets had set themselves for a rematch against Lakeside, the first return match from the start of the season. After suffering a twelve goal loss in Round 1, this match was to be the litmus test for the Jets and their improvement. Alas, that test will have to wait.