This week we experienced the highs and lows of football. Coming off a win against Central Districts and keeping our finals hopes alive we were dealt the blow of losing important midfielder Kasia Culhane to a dislocated collarbone after taking a solid bump late in the Centrals game.
To add further insult to injury one of our prime movers and best forwards in the competition, Chelsea Biddell injured her knee ( meniscus) at training on Tuesday night which will see her miss the remainder of the season.
These injuries caused a reshuffle of our starting line up giving another 15yo, Scarlett Griffiths her opportunity to debut, bringing to four the number of 15yo debutants we have had this year.
Knowing the Eagles pattern of coming out hard early but fading towards the end of games, we set ourselves to be resilient in the face of adversity, take the opportunities that adversity had provided and ensure we control our own destiny to make finals by coming away with the win.
After an even Q1, we had the opportunity to head into quarter time in front after Mel Elsegood took a mark in the goal square, seconds before the siren. Mel played on to kick the goal which was disallowed by the umpire who adjudicated the siren went before Mel had kicked the ball. We went to quarter time 5 points down.
The game further tested the resilience of our group when 16yo Niamh Davis, who has been as solid as a rock in defence all year, suffered an ankle injury midway into Q2. Niamh was unable to take any further part in the game, requiring a further reshuffling of positions. Late in the quarter we had settled and began to slow the Eagles ball movement down by blocking the switch option and forcing them down the line. A goal each to both sides for the quarter left us behind by 8 points at the main brea
The composure and determination shown by all players was pleasing. Every player was playing there role and doing what was asked of them. Despite being down a player we were able to begin to control the game in the 3rd quarter. Our defence held the Eagles scoreless, our predominantly teenage midfield was winning the ball around the stoppages, whilst Marie Martino kicked her second for the game. This brought the scores level at 3/4 time.
The message at the 3/4 time break, was to keep persisting, play with heart and live the team values of being team first, resilient and ruthless. The playing group responded accordingly, with our restructured small forward line providing movement and spark. Goals to Helen Maidment and Mel Elsegood saw us take the lead, however, the effort was beginning to take its toll on the players conceding a late goal. With minutes left and the game in the balance, Alex Mason put her body on the line, ultimately breaking her radial bone in her wrist to thwart an opposition attack. With Maddi Newman and Lauren Rodato showing great composure and awareness of the game clock we were able to wind down some time to win and keep our finals hopes within our own destiny.
I could not be more prouder of the playing group and how they have so far overcome a number of challenges through, injury and illness, that has taught and shown them that football is not just about structure and skill, but about maturity and having a mental toughness. For such a young playing group, with seven players in this game aged 18 and under and a further two aged between 18 and 20yo the future looks very bright.
Goal kickers : Martino 2, Elsegood, Maidment, E.Smith
Best Players: M. Martino, R. Owen, A. Ballard, Z. Venning, E. Smith, H. Maidment