Like their Championship counterparts, the Monash Divison 1 girls were all about atonement as they easily accounted for UB Ballarat Pride by 30 goals at the State Netball and Hockey Centre on Wednesday night.
Most significantly, Monash’s impressive display stemmed mainly from the second-string, as key figures in Ebony Fietz, Shae Gee and Melissa Wardle played on little-to-no game time at all.
The win was set up by a fast start with goalers Laura McDonald and Gabrielle Henderson (31 from 35) doing the early damage, setting up a 4-1 lead early before Pride called an injury time out.
McDonald was particularly impressive in her first full game, finishing with – from – attempts.
Jessica Walker and Sophie Knights were busy in the mid court.
Walker’s ability to get away from her opponent opened up strong avenues for her deliver passes on a silver platter for her goalers.
Knights’ return to the Divison 1 team after two outings for the Championship side was a welcome sight, with her usual energy and anticipation a key aspect on both the offensive and defensive ends.
Most heart-warming was the return of Maggie Taumaoe after an injury lay off. Her presence down back all but blanketed her direct opponent as she pulled off intercepts time and again.
She was well supported in the defensive third by the ever-consistent Kate Slattery, Adele Clydesdale played arguably her best game in Division 1 as the defensive trio worked tirelessly to concede just 30 goals for the whole game.
In a massive positive for Jacqui Hansen, Monash’s evenness of contribution from her starters and bench players gives the Central coach a nice headache with team selection.
Hansen told monashuniversitycentral.com.au, said she was pleased on her side’s behalf to come away with a strong, four-quarter win amid a month of tough netball.
“Yes they weren’t one of the stronger teams we’ve played, but you still have to play good netball, which we did tonight,” Hansen said.
“It gave us an opportunity to give court-time to a lot of girls who haven’t seen as much this year.
“We’d hate for our finals entry to come down to percentage, so we’re seeing every game as a must-win.”
With five weeks to go, like Leesa Maxfield’s Championship side, Hansen describes the depth of her roster as a “nice headache you want to have” leading into the crux stages of the home-and-away season.
“It’s been tough trying to work out which girls adapt well to being introduced mid-way through and which girls play better from start to finish,” Hansen said.
“I guess just the flexibility of each girls’ needs is comforting with knowledge that they can come on and perform a role for us.”
Monash face the undefeated Boroondara Genesis next week in what could quite possibly be a warm up for the first week of finals, next Wednesday night at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.
FINAL SCORE: Monash University Central 66 def. by UB Ballarat Pride 29
MUC SCORERS: Gabrielle Henderson 31 (89%); Laura McDonald 23 (66%); Tayla Shannon 12 (89%)