The day began in customary fashion with hangovers, Maccas and half the team running late as a result of the aforementioned hangovers. Once sufficiently carb-loaded (nuggets have carbs, right?) and thoroughly warmed up and stretched, we made our way to the dugout for our usual insightful and well thought-out team talk. In addition to the usual chit chat, there was much pre-game drama with UNSW only having a team of six to field. Would they have to forfeit, would someone save the day at the last minute? We were on tenterhooks! And by tenterhooks, I mean we stood and discussed whether it was more or less annoying to play with hangover, or go home with hangover after having got up and got to the game. The usual level of positivity was there for all to see, with one person remarking, ‘we should probably win this given they only have seven players.’ Motivational speaking 101. During this time, we were also informed that our new goalie, Julie Byrne, had her leg guards upside down and on the wrong legs. God loves a trier.
Once on the pitch, with almost double the amount of players of our opponents, and a goalie suitably attired, we made a strong start, with a goal from Steph White in the first ten minutes. We sat back and waiting for the floodgates to open. Sadly, they did not open until a bit later in the game, thanks to UNSW’s excellent goalie, and we ended the first quarter 1-0 up.
As committed players and tacticians, we took on board what we had learned in our extensive and always well-attended training sessions, and played an excellent ‘in out’ game for the duration of the match. Our marking was not as good as it could have been, despite some mouthy chick in the backs shouting ‘there’s a free player there’ for the entirety of the match. This was mostly ignored, but there was very little do back there, so it was a good way for the backs to stay in the action.
In the second and third quarters, we piled the pressure on and the mids and forwards were relentless in their pursuit for a big score. Goals went flying in from Steph, Captain Kath and, 2018 Players’ Player, Sarah O’Brien. However, honourable mention goes to centre back, Rach Taylor, who inexpiably found herself in the offensive D, and ended up on the score sheet following a great little run and shot. This is what happens when you BACK YOURSELF, ladies.
Sarah O’Brien, once again, covered marathon-length distances during the game and went on several silky smooth runs, putting constant pressure on the UNSW defence. Jude Kelly continues to be on sparkling form and is cutting through defences left and right with her runs from midfield. Much like Sarah O’ Brien, she is putting in the miles (or kilometres, for our Australian friends) on the pitch, although one does get a sense that Jude has a plan on where she is running to, a level of ‘game intelligence’ not always matched across the board. We won many, many short and long corners due to the hard work of the mids and forwards. I look forward to the day that once we’ve won a long corner, we work out what do with it. Baby steps, I suppose.
New player, Nadeera, and resident team physio/general patcher-upper, Jus, led the front line well and were unlucky not to score – again, due to the undoubted player of the game – the UNSW goalie.
Moving in to the fourth quarter, and only 7-0 up, the backs were moved up to the forward line to provide some much-needed fire power. It may also have to get them to stop shouting ‘mark your players’ incessantly. The transition really showed the versatility of the team, with the forwards who were now backs, and the backs who were now forwards, absolutely understanding exactly where they were supposed to be standing, and what they were supposed to doing. It also gave the back line good insight in to how much running is done up there, and it would be fair to say that wasn’t anyone’s favourite part of the switch. Hatred of running notwithstanding, the new forward line were really the injection of skill and precision which was needed to kill off a game now on a knife-edge. Captain Kath’s brave tactical gamble paid off Sarah Russell French’s blistering shot was saved, with the ball landing at the author’s feet for a cheeky tap in. Forwards, just FYI for next week, that’s where you need to stand for the follow up shot. I guess just look at what I do and learn from that?
So, an 8-0 victory, a new goalie, backs at the front and fronts at the back – it wasn’t textbook but it was epic. Same thing next week, Easts!
- Report by Siobhan Smith