Friday, 7 June 2013

Championship: Ruthless Monash put Ballarat to the sword

A Monash side keen to atone for last week’s loss to the Falcons has breezed past UB Ballarat Pride, defeating them by 27 goals on Wednesday night at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.

Ballarat showed some promise in the opening ten minutes going toe-to-toe and goal-for-goal in the opening ten minutes before Monash went on a rampage to be 22-10 ahead at the first change.

Customary Centre for Division 1 Shai Skinner stepped up to play a pivotal role alongside Lil O’Sullivan as their pair combined for 19 of 22 goal assists.

O’Sullivan was red hot early forcing turnovers and playing a hand in the opening eight goals of the match for Central.

Stephanie Tyrell looked at her energetic best up front, showing great intensity in grabbing rebounds from missed shots as well as converting her shots from all over the circle.

She would finish with a season-best 31 from 36 shots.

Tyrell wasn’t alone with goaling colleagues Stacey Northey (26 from 34) and Sarah Main (13 from 15) consistently added to Monash’s growing score.

Defensively, it was a great return for Monash, who had uncharacteristically conceded 50 points in their loss last week to City West Falcons.

Both Georgie Davenport and Helen Barclay returned to form with a host of deflections and interceptions giving no continuity to the Pride’s offense.

The word ‘continuity’ would aptly describe the way the match panned out with Monash able to suffocate Pride’s goalers, coercing Pride into wayward passing and deep, perimeter shooting.

For Central the 70-43 thrashing pushes them back into the top four, but Coach Leese Maxfield told that all games from hereon in were must-win.

“With five weeks to go, we are definitely no shoo-ins for finals,” Maxfield said.

“Tonight allowed us to put in place a new defensive structure that worked really well for us and is something we’ll look to implement for in the coming weeks.

“Even offensively, we got a lot out of what we wanted to achieve tonight in relation to our ball movement and shot creation.”

With elite Centre, Tegan Ashmore coming back into the mix and Lauren Tscharke also due to return, Maxfield said pressure on spots was now becoming a challenge set within the playing group.

“We’ve now got girls putting pressure on each other to get on the court and perform to stay on the court as well.”

Monash take on Boroondara Genesis next week at the State Netball and Hockey Centre looking to avenge for a one-point loss last time they met.

FINAL SCORE: Monash University Central 70 def. UB Ballarat Pride 43

MUC SCORERS: Stacey Northey 28 (78%); Stephanie Tyrell 25 (90%); Sarah Main 17 (74%)

Division 1: Pride wounded as Monash dominate

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, 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%)

Under 19s: Brave Monash left to rue final quarter fadeout

Monash pushed and pushed but ultimately came up short, falling to UB Ballarat Pride by 10 goals on Wednesday night at the State Netball & Hockey Centre.

Central faced an uphill battle all night, yet started the match exceedingly well with Ramayer Gourley nailing her first four shots.

Like previous weeks, her stint in the goals was short-lived, when Monash called a mid-quarter time out and swapped Gourley to the defensive end to counter the Pride’s tall, accurate shooters.

In partnership with Alice Ditchfield, the pair combined beautifully to restrict the Pride ever truly putting Monash away.

After 10-15 first quarter, the Pride threw away opportunities to extend their margin while Monash’s goalers Natalie Billings and Rhys Carter-Coleman took theirs to bring the deficit back to three.

However, it became Monash’s turn to fall back into bad habits with audacious passing, as Pride blew the lead out 8, before another late surge by Central saw the quarter concession even up; the score 20-25 in Prides favour at the long break.

The third quarter saw arguably Monash’s best netball of the season, if not in recent weeks.

Monash looked to have winners all over the court, with Wing Defence Tayla Kearns fantastic in shutting down her opposition and predating on every loose ball.

Jamie Collins was her usual lively self and found some excellent avenues of supply for Billings (24 from 29) and Carter-Coleman (15 from 21) to convert.

The work of goalers couldn’t be underestimated as both girls fed each other goals at regular intervals to win the quarter 12,-9 and bring score back to 34-37.

Yet, slightly undermanned on the bench, tired legs and mental fatigue kicked in as the Pride ran away with the win, capitalising on Monash’s mistakes and converting their scoring opportunities to win 53-43.

Monash Assistant Coach Sharon Hook told, that after the confidence taken from last week’s performance against the ladder-leading City West Falcons, tonight’s match wasn’t totally out of left-field.

“Mentally, the girls were really up for the challenge and for three quarters, we really pushed the envelope to get into a winning position,” Hook said.

“We got tired and the game plan, which we’d executed really well In the first three quarters, fell away and as a result, we probably lost by more than what we should have.

“Our passing options fell away and what we stuck to before…we just weren’t able to carry it, especially in that last ten minutes.”

Despite a lean win-loss record for the season, Hook said the side were maintaining a positive approach for their remaining matches of season 2013.

“We took a lot of confidence from the way we finished last week,” Hook said.

“That can’t be underestimated. We went in with a positive mindset and I think we’re quite disappointed that we couldn’t grab this one tonight.

“We’ve got five games left and realistically we should be looking to challenge wins in two or three of those. If we can come away with those, that’ll be a nice note to finish on.”

Monash face the second-placed Boroondara Genesis, next Wednesday night at the State Netball and Hockey Centre in a match that – on Monash’s recent form – shouldn’t be solely taken at face value.

FINAL SCORE: Monash University Central 43 def. by UB Ballarat Pride 53

MUC SCORERS: Natalie Billings 24 (83%); Rhys Carter Coleman 15 (72%); Ramayer Gourley 4 (100%)

Vics and Barclay leading the way to unleash Fury

She carries a wise head on her responsibility-burdened shoulders, but Helen Barclay is strident in what she sets out to achieve.

While Netball Victoria announced a second expansion team, the Victorian Flames, Barclay was rewarded last Wednesday with selection in Victoria’s first ANL side, the Fury.

Barclay glowed in appreciation upon hearing the news and pointed towards the introduction of the second Victorian side as giving more opportunity for girls in the VNL to represent their state.

“There was an extra incentive with a new team coming and board and just more scope to being selected,” Barclay said.

Helen Barclay (GD) doing some of her best work.
Credit: Shawn Smits
“Particularly being one of the older players of both Monash and the Victorian squads, it’s something I’m very proud of.”

Part of the nuts and bolts of Monash’s superb defensive record this year alongside Georgie Davenport and Natalie Tommasini, Barclay has gone a long to way to ensure Central’s number one ranking for goals conceded in 2013, even ahead of Championship ladder leaders Peninsula Waves.

Despite the numbers telling a different story, Barclay believes that, in terms of consistency, this hasn’t been her strongest.

“I’ve had better years. I feel I probably haven’t reached the levels that I wanted to be at,” Barclay said.

“That’s probably why I’m so stoked to be chosen for the Fury, because I felt particularly my last season has been more consistent than this one.

“Having said that there’s the whole second half of this year to work my way back into the game.

“Georgie and I have been playing and I think we can get even better before the season’s end.”

The formal selection process began on May 3, culminating in weeks of strenuous squad training and fitness testing, where Tscharke said she relished in “the opportunity to push myself with the intensity of training”.

As much of a testament it is for both Tscharke and Monash skipper Helen Barclay – chosen for the Victorian Fury – Netball Victoria High Performance Manager, Eloise Southby-Halbish said the high calibre of the two teams is a testament to the level of netball in Victoria and an exciting prospect for young netballers in the state.

“This is a very exciting year for Victorian netball,” Southby-Halbish said.

“The selectors have found the process of selecting this squad very challenging and believe that we have picked the most in form and consistent performers within our premier Victorian Netball League competition.”

Asked on the differences, the transition and step-up between Victorian training and Monash training, Barclay laughed.

“It’s definitely a step up in intensity,” Barclay.

“Which is good because I’d like to think that I can take it back to Monash and the VNL and apply it to my own and my teammates’ games. It’s been a great experience so far.”

Not only has Barclay had to juggle the pressures of full time work with the commitments of netball, the baton of captaincy has been passed down to the experienced Central defender.

It’s a title that Barclay admits to being uncertain with, but has grown to enjoy.

“It’s been a challenge, purely because I’ve only played under and filled the role of co-captain before,” Barclay said.

“With senior players leaving the taking over the solo gig, they were big shoes to fill and I wasn’t sure if I was still capable of playing good netball.

“It’s been a really positive challenge and the girls have been really supportive, which makes it much easier and more enjoyable.”

As the skipper, Barclay was straight to the point in reflecting on her team’s performance to date, with just over five weeks to go.

“We’re definitely not satisfied with not making finals. Our goal all along has been to make finals and win the championship,” Barclay said.

“Having said that, we’ve had standout performances mixed in with performances we rather forget.

“From hereon in, our goal is to really up the ante and reach our full potential so that we’re at our best for when finals roll around.”

Monash Championship Leesa Maxfield praised Barclays’s representative selection – as well as teammate saying it was a testament to her durability and consistency in season 2013.

“The criteria for selection was that they had to perform at a high standard consistently,” Maxfield said.

“That meant that any one of our girls could’ve been selected, but it’s a tribute to Lauren and Helen who’ve been pivotal in our ability to suffocate the top teams with our defence.

“It’s a true credit to their consistency and work ethic.”

With five rounds to go of the regular season, Barclay can’t help but look forward to what may lie ahead with her Fury experiences.

One of those will include coming face-to-face on-court with teammate and friend, Lauren Tscharke.

“Yeah I suppose we will cross paths, we’ll be on the right part of the court together,” Barclay said.

“We’ve got a game scheduled in Melbourne. I don’t think we’ll play directly on each other, which is relief.

“I think you can struggle playing on someone you already play netball with, but I’m sure it’ll be really healthy competition when we get out there.”

Yet for now, sitting just outside the top five and the goal of making finals a non-negotiable, Barclay’s attention will be focussed on the coming Wednesday night when Monash do battle against Boroondara Genesis.

The match kicks off on Wednesday, June 12 at 7pm at the State Netball and Hockey Centre, Court 3.