After the Queen’s birthday long weekend our focus as a team was to set our sights on causing an upset against the Endeavor Hills side. We felt quietly confident that we were up to the task but to beat them we knew we had to play well and close their space when they had control of the ball and not allow them to take control especially without pressure. On the other hand, we needed to spread quickly when we gained control and it was important for us not be predictable or else we would be kicking the ball into their zone. We believed that we were capable of a boil over but had to be focused and prepared to go from the start of the game. Heading into the game we had close to 30 players to select from so selection proved to be difficult and unfortunately Miki, Dani, Paris, Kristy and Jules missed out this week and Alicia and Tara were unavailable. Maddi was playing her first game. Pre-game I asked for the team to come a little bit earlier to prepare for the game, to get our minds on the job at hand however it was disappointing that not every player was able to make it at the time requested. Leading into the game I also felt that our minds weren’t totally into the job at hand. Endeavour Hills are a good side and to beat good sides and to take the next step it takes a collective team that is focused and prepared for the battle. After the address we went out to warm up and again our warmup did not look like a team that was looking to take a scalp and put their mark on the competition. The siren sounded and the game was to start.
Quarter 1 The first few minutes of the game was very hotly contested, and it was evident that it was a good standard game with lots of pressure added by both teams. Shortly after things started to settle down with Endeavour Hills starting to take control. Eventually the pressure was to much for us to handle and the Hills drew first blood by a kicking a goal. It wasn’t the start we were hoping for, but things turned a bit more sour when without interception the Hills obtained the center clearance and kicked their 2nd goal without us having any impact to stop them. The 2nd goal was disappointing as it was due to a defensive lapse where a kick for goal went across the face without any defender to impact an uncontested mark by the opposition forward. The remainder of the quarter was a bit of an arm wrestle and fortunately for us the opposition were inaccurate and were only able to kick 4 points however we were not able to score. By the end of the quarter Endeavour Hills finished up 16 points to our donuts! We had reasonable passages of play throughout the quarter and although our pressure was reasonable our gameplay and execution was disappointing. We continuously kicked to the opposition zone and our positioning around stoppages and in general play was simply unintelligent. If it weren’t for Tilly, Jaclyn, Shannon, Lily and Rhi we could easily have found ourselves 4 to 5 goals down in the first 20 minutes. We went into the quarter time huddle not pleased with our opening term but believed we could get back into the game. To do this we needed to take ascendency of the game and play it on our terms. We needed to stop their sweeper in stoppages who was continuously getting uncontested handballs thrown back at her whilst we continued to not hold our position and get sucked into the ball. We also gave them far too much room and they were easily able to keep the ball away from us. They are able to execute kicks without error and we were too loose, and our positioning allowed them to do as they liked. The opposition were also obviously much bigger bodied than us as well and are a good tackling team which was even more reason for us to spread out and create a running game. Finally, our reaction time compared to the opposition was also an issue, we were not as committed to winning the ball and making a contest when it was our turn to go like they were, we were tentative. Our goal for half time was for scores to be fairly level and to reset and give ourselves a chance to run over them after half time.
Quarter 2 The opening minutes of the quarter saw us come out strongly and after a center clearance we posted our first score when Catty, Jordy and Nush combined with Nush taking a set shot from about 35 to 40 meters out. Although we have discussed it and there were options for Nush to pass to players 15 to 20 meters out no one demanded the ball or wanted to make something happen so we all just sat back to watch a shot which was a slim chance to make it. A minute or so after we continued to pour on the pressure and eventually scored our 2nd point of the game from a errant kick by Lily. The pleasing thing was that we were keeping the ball trapped in our forward line and if we continued to do that, we felt that a goal was coming. Shortly after Endeavor Hills could no longer hold us out when Stacy drilled a pass to Nush who went back and made no mistake. Game on Moles was heard from the crowd! Against the grain Endeavour Hills were able to get a cheap one due to our looseness however to our credit we did not let this bring us down. We continued to win contests around the ground and started linking together and eventually from 60 meters out Sienna kicked the ball towards goal which bounced and bounced and bounced its way into goal. The crowd went wild and the momentum was with us. Things looked really promising when we continued to surge and when Emma and Erin linked with Nush who took the mark and went back to kick her 2nd it looked like we were on our way. Unfortunately Endeavor Hills are resilient and with a minute or so before half time kicked a brilliant goal which you had to respect with individual brilliance by their center half forward. We were setting up for half time when in the dying seconds of the quarter the opposition were able to deflate us by kicking a goal from a wayward kick in defense that we will learn from. As I always say if we learn from situations then it is worth it. Eventually the siren sounded, and the scores were Endeavor Hills 34 Bentleigh 21. We proved we could hold our own against them, we proved that we have the game that can trouble them but it was up to us to execute a game plan that focused on our strengths not theirs as if the game was going to be played on their terms they would win. Nush came alive in the 2nd quarter, Shannon was a rock intercepting the opposition numerous times, Catty was making her mark, Maddi started getting involved, Jordy was providing some grunt in the stoppages and Emma Medland was starting to also get involved. We made numerous changes after half time, Emma Turner and Lily were moved into half back, Lily was being tagged so to release her we decided to let her play an attacking role from half back. Zoe was moved to Centre half back, Tilly to Centre half forward, Christa on ball.
3 rd quarter The 3rd quarter got under way and our aim was to get within a goal of the opposition to allow us an opportunity to run away with it in the last quarter. Our plan didn’t work, the opposition completely dominated in the 3rd term and blew the game out of our reach. Although they only scored 2 goals 4 points for the quarter it was enough to give them a 29- point lead. Zoe tried valiantly as to did Emma Turner, but the opposition had their way with us. The game was over, but we still had a lot to play for which was for our pride, we didn’t want the opposition to get a psychological advantage on us so it was important the score did not blow out. Last quarter Although we were outscored in the final term there is no doubt, we outplayed them. Most of the time the ball was in our forward half, unfortunately we were not able to capitalize on our chances. Against the trend they were able to make the most of the few occasions they were able to get the ball forward of center and kick a goal which came from a stoppage where our positioning was not good. In a highlight in the quarter Lily combined with Shannon and Erin with a great run which eventually resulted in a point but deserved a goal. Tilly also scored a point which was her first score in football. All in all, I was pleased with our finish. The reality is that I thought they clearly won the 1st and 3rd quarters however I felt we outplayed them for a majority of the 2nd and last quarter. Unfortunately, our lapses cost us and like a good team does they made their opportunities count. Final score had us losing by 32 points which really did not indicate how the game felt.
Final Analysis Unfortunately, on this day the opposition proved too good for us, but we are still evolving and still learning. They are not going to give their crown away easily; we will have to earn it and we can beat them but only if we continue to execute our game plan better and be more accountable when they have ball in hand. We gave them far too much space at times to chip the ball around and didn’t close their ability to do this. In stoppages they always handballed back to the sweeper and it took us a long time to stop this and when we did, we started to win the clearances. Finally, we need to stop kicking the ball to the opposition especially when they position themselves in a zoned hotspots about 35 meters away in a triangle zone. Forwards continuously were positioning themselves 15 meters behind their opposition which wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that they were 60 meters away from the play whilst their opponents were positioning themselves to make an impact if the ball came down. Although we are improving our footy intel is an area we really need to advance on if we are going to be able to beat Endeavor Hills is the future. Let’s focus on East Brighton this Friday and get back to winning form to cement our belief that we are the 2nd best team in the competition and win the games we should and be prepared for Endeavour Hills next time around. Well done team, it wasn’t a bad effort, we just have to be better for longer.