Hucclecote Comets vs Mavericks Saturday 1st October 2017
Saturday saw the first match of this newly formed and young Regional 2 squad take on Mavericks at home. Having had limited time together as a squad, there was anticipation on what to expect from the first match of the season.
Two key targets had been set for this team following on from training. The first, to penetrate the second phase ball from a centre pass into the goal third and the second to limit opportunities and restrict space on the defensive centre pass to cause instant pressure. The starting line-up saw Megan as GS, Emily GA, Mitzi WA, Darcy C, Tee WD, Elaine © GD and Harriet as GK.
Comets started strongly, dominating in attack and feeding shooter Megan well, despite the physicality of the defence. Comets took a 6-1 lead and the sisterly partnership between Darcy and Mitzi had an immediate impact bringing the ball into the shooting circle, supported by Emily’s speed and passion. However, Mavericks soon stepped into gear and closed the gap with the help of their playmaker C and a very fast and effective GA. It was quickly apparent that this was to be a physical game through all areas of the court. Comets came off the court leading the first quarter 13-11.
The task for the second quarter was to prevent the WA hitting the circle edge and to apply maximum pressure to help the defence turn the ball. Katie came onto GK and Harriet moved to GD with the aim of delaying the GA’s entry into the shooting circle as the dominant shooter. Elaine moved to WD to continue to reduce the opportunities for circle edge feeds. In the attacking end Darcy and Mitzi switched bibs and Megan and Emily were asked to show some variety in playand to work together as a partnership to keep the opposition thinking. This task however resulted in a lack of confidence in decision making and the simple effective moments that had previously worked were taken out of the quarter all together. Some errors soon started to creep into the attack with some forced balls and over excited play at times. However the tight first phase defence through court forced Mavericks to make decisions that appeared easy for our defence to intercept. Yet,keeping possession of these turnovers became a challenge with some unnecessary wasted passes appearing through court. Despite this, Comets extended the lead to 23-20, helped significantly by the reduced opportunities created by Mavericks GA.
The third quarter saw Katie move from GK to GA with emphasis to slow the game down and bring some control through the attacking third. Elaine moved back to GK to communicate to the team to help maintain discipline after a turnover and Harriet stayed as GD to continue to apply pressure and slow down the impact of the GA. Mavericks made some changes and we saw a new GK match Megan who instantly put more pressure on the feed and the ball coming into the D. Katie brought a calmness into the attacking end,which at times exposed Mavericks defence. By this point Mavericks were applying pressure all through court and physically trying to dominate the game. Yet Comet’s did not respond but remained strong both on and off the ball. Within the last few minutes an interception in the defensive end saw a passage of play that was creative, fluent and exciting to watch. It was the best moment of the game and was completed with a goal. It received a well-deserved cheer, a clap from both the bench and spectators, which lifted the momentum and confidence of the squad. A run of three goals soon followed (which was the third quarter target) and Comets finished the third quarter with an extended 37-30 lead.
The team talk at this stage was about mental strength, fitness and decision making. Mavericks were passionate and were not going to give up without a fight and were going to come back hard. Megan was asked to ensure a fully extended arm was visible as a target and to keep an angled body position for the feed as the GK before had caused some disruption. However, Mavericks changed their GK back to the original who although extremely physical, didn’t appear to disrupt Megan’s body positioning as much as the previous GK. Emily was brought on to the WD to use her fiery passion to restrict the WA’s opportunities to gain possession of the ball and therefore create more pressure for the GA to do more work through court, with the intention of bringing out fatigue, errors and a delay on entry to the D. Mavericks first centresaw 6 passes take place before the ball went into the D and the WA did not receive 1 of them. Emily maintained this pressure and within three minutes into the quarter, time was called and the WA came off and replaced with what could have easily been perceived to be a tactical time out. Comet’s new found confidence led them to take an 11 goal lead but this led to a loss of focus at times with some moments of ill-disciplined decisions. The disappointment of this quarter is that this 11 goal lead was not maintained and Mavericks came back to see a final score of 49-41.
For a first match, it was exciting to see the energy, mental toughness and passion by this new group of players who did not look like they had not played together as a squad before. How nobody got flattened in this game we do not know and a target is to definitely work on creating opportunities that don’t involve the high injury risk that we saw during this match. Fitness was most definitely on the side of this young team buta few action points have been identified to improve the quality and consistency of the squad performance. Sessions at training will over the season work on safe but fast transition from defence to attack (for example after a turnover), and instilling a calmness into fast and physical play with the overall goal of moving from focus of individual thinking and individual performance, to a stronger focus of team thinking and team strategies in response to challenging situations.
An exciting season is definitely ahead of this team and we hope this first match has improved confidence and ambition.
Mavericks player of the match – Harriet (GK, GD)
Players player of the match – Harriet (GK, GD)