Match Report U16 Girls – Season 2010
U16Girls End of Year Report – What’s in a Win?
A lot of people will tell you many different things, but on a sunny Father’s Day, with a few of the parents of the Finals-Winning 16 Girls’ team, the coach would say "satisfaction and redemption". The 2010 report card would read … a difficult campaign early on, but as the team gathered momentum, the troops rallied and became a formidable unit, ultimately winning their Pennant Final.
Before the season started, anticipation was high for another solid year, based on last year’s performance and the belief of starting the year with a sharp and well-drilled unit. Unfortunately, we lost 5 players for various reasons (injury, sporting or artistic pursuits) and had to scout for new players.
Six new players who had never played before signed up, complementing the 7 core players of last year’s team and 2 existing in-house players from junior teams, proving our youth development programme is alive and well. New players consisted of Emily (Em), Natasha (Tash), Zoe, Taylor, Adele and Megan (Megs and also Mel for the first couple of games). Our youth squad of Arianne (dual registration 14G) and Olivia (ex 15 Boys) provided balance to the core player group of Romy (Captain), Chelsea, Brianna (Bri), Olivia (Liv), Alex, Rebecca and last, but not least, Hannah.
With a deep understanding of our situation, the coaching staff set about revising our goals to a more modest top four finish in a higher division, with, effectively, a new squad, with the belief that the team would finish strong.
Our first training session was hilarious with many of the new girls tripping over the ball and landing on their bums, flinching at the mere sight of the ball and, not to forget, the squealing and giggling. Not the highly competitive team of last year, but seemingly a lot of fun kids (and quite smart, as time would reveal).
We instantly doubled training and worked tirelessly on skill and some team situations, and threw the girls to the wolves. Unbeknown to us, we would play the top four teams in the first few games and got to know how good the opposition was. The signs were promising for top four, given we were competitive during this time with our new squad.
After winning our first game the vibe grew, the team gelled and developed to a point where winning was becoming commonplace. A last minute goal from Cranebrook to draw that particular game created a hiccup in our travels and by the time we returned to the second round, the team was savvier and stuck it to the top three with tight losses which, if converted to wins, would have drawn a much different picture.
Nevertheless, our plot was to chase those above us and rely on results, which ultimately didn’t come. A 3-all draw to Springwood White (who the team was chasing down) sealed our fate and we began the experimental stage in preparation for the Pennant Finals; the irony being that the fourth place getter ended up in the top 4 Final and the realisation of how close our fast-improving team came.
The round-robin pennant finals campaign commenced in style, with two solid wins during the finals madness, under extreme pressure, and in the third game our worst fears of losing 3-nil came to fruition with a lack lustre performance in the high altitude of Wentworth Falls. The team was warned about being complacent and the effect of altitude … with the team thinking the coach was typically putting one over on them. "Think air"? phhh, like, sure Rob, we’re not thick. But alas, the coach’s thin air, missing captain and ragged strikers, who had little in the tank after being left on the field a full game for the AAL (thanks guys), all conspired against the team and we had to wait on other results. The team was utterly gutted that all their good work and training had come to naught. On a bright note Zoe, Taylor, Em and Tash stepped up to a new level never seen before, demonstrating the team’s coming of age.
The Coach celebrated his team’s premiership (go the old boys) which, itself, was a miracle, but the grey cloud was cast and would follow him on the long trip home. Lucky no one was in his car.
Glued to the Nepean website, we finished equal second with the same points and goal difference, but finishing higher up the ladder regular season meant our good earlier form booked us a spot in the Final against Cranebrook, the team that sank us 3-zip. The gods of karma were with us and with renewed vigour, we knew we had dogged a bullet and wouldn’t let the gods down again.
Training was refined for one more game, the Finals game, and all bases were covered. A steely determination gripped the team (how things change) and on Finals Saturday we watched in horror as all the Blueys teams came up short on the day and after their own successful year. Alarm bells began to resonate within the squad, but the determined coach turned to his chargers and all affirmed "the rot stops with us" and the 16 Girls will lead the way on Sunday.
A replay of last year’s match up Cranebrook V Blue Mountains. Two changed teams but similar results – one win, one loss and a draw, same goal difference. On paper, little between the sides … who would prevail? Pre-game talk, official registration, regular warm-up and the team was ready for business. A steely determination was evident … game on.
Cranebrook typically started hard, but the girls in the middle of the park went about winning the ball and distributed to our wide players, as planned. Strikers got early into the game, crafting out half chances and mid-way through the first half Chelsea coolly slotted her first of two goals and probably 20th plus for the year. Shortly after, Taylor snuck in at the far post for a tap in, for her first ever goal, which seemed to stun her!
Just shy of half time Bri hammered a 30ft drive to all but sink the opposition. Still, earlier in the season, Springwood White came back from here and that lesson learnt served us well. The backs worked tirelessly, keeping the pressure off Alex in goals and the game ebbed and flowed until mid-way in the second half Chelsea secured the win. Cranebrook weren’t done and continued pushing until the whistle, proving their spirit was unrelenting.
A great end to the year.
Thanks to Col as support coach who, without his help, we would have struggled, and Natalie for her tireless managerial support, keeping the team on track and organised. The organisational yin to Rob’s yang.
Well done girls, well done.