Match Report: Panthers v Jets
When my head hit my pillow last night, I went to sleep a happy coach. While some may scratch their head wondering why I am content with a 13 point loss, I have taken so much out of that game as a coach. After a dismal first outing, I was worried how the girls might bounce back. It could have turned into a very long season, or we could become masters of our own destiny.
I have a new-found appreciation of the grit, determination and commitment of this group of athletes. While I am certainly not offering up any excuses, the lead up to Tuesday nights game was playing on my mind, and quite frankly, I was nervous. I had five out the 10 players competing at schoolgirls for four days, finishing lunchtime Tuesday. I had a player come down with tonsillitis Monday night. We had come off a beating by Bond first round.
Safe to say, I was feeling pretty anxious. I know these girls feed off me, so I needed to get myself together, shake any feelings of doubt, and focus on getting the girls sorted to get the job done.
Anybody that watched the livestream (big thank you Lauren and Graeme), would agree what a fantastic match it was. It had a bit of everything! A tough, fast, contested game that saw every player work hard for every ball for 60 minutes. Our epic 9 goal comeback was sweet. This alone showed what we are actually capable of.
The defensive unit was phenomenal. Kalei, Grace and Caitlin were so fatigued, but they dug deep, worked so hard and kept their communication up. For such a young line up, I was impressed with their maturity, calmness and fantastic transitions. They backed up in attack, and reset with calmness. To see Courtney come on court and not miss a beat after 18 months out of action was awe inspiring. To see her out there playing the game she loves, and enjoying the challenge was just fantastic.
Our mid court were work horses. They looked after the ball, they worked to circle edge and they were patient. They kept their composure and led the team by example.
And how about our baby giraffe? For a 14 year old (and one of the ones who just played 4 days straight), her maturity, intelligence and understanding of her role is exciting. Her opponent would have had quite a few centimetres on her, but she held high, held strong and repositioned as she needed to. When we worked our connections to the circle, it was an easy feed.
My pick for best on court was Elisa Dennis. Elisa hasn’t played a lot of C for Panthers this season. What I was most impressed with is her ability to apply feedback directly to her game. Things we have worked on and talked about, such as court balance, timing and release of ball she put into action. Her defensive game was excellent, contesting and hustling full court. Elisa is also the most positive, lovely team member always looking at the bright side.
I just want to also thank our people watching the livestream and posting messages of support. I had a read through the comments this morning and I got the warm and fuzzies knowing we had the support of our people. You have no idea how much it means to us.
We get back on court this week after some video analysis and review of statistics, and we target those areas we know we need to address. But all in all, I feel a whole lot better knowing these girls now know what they are capable of putting out on that court. After all, we have given them the tools and the preparation, its now on them to deliver.