A Grade St Josephs has not lost a game to achieve the pinnacle spot on the ladder with 12 points. In second position is Vikings on 6 points equal with Railways 6 points and Magpies in fourth position. What are the strengths of St Josephs at this stage of the season?
It has extremely strong midcourt players in Amy Green, Leah Carling and Ebony Butler. One has to marvel at the fitness level, speed, soaring leaps, their abilities to lead to the front position for possessions and the desperation to scuttle for loose balls at floor level. Considering Carling spent a season recuperating from a knee reconstruction then to come back at a high competitive level is amazing.
Taking a look at its goal scoring end with playing coach Lisa Welfare having spent a season out to recuperate from an achilles injury she has powerfully come back to not only lead the team but bolster the goal scoring responsibilities. The other wonder maiden is Lucy Janiak who has developed into being one of the most reliable scoring machines regardless of the pressure applied by oppositions. Janiak along with Welfare have a unique ability to rebound shots that appear not to be within their grasp.
The two goal defenders Taylor-Lee Breen (a multiple F&B winner from Whyalla) and Courtney Webb (ex Vikings) are a force to reckon with. Both are fast, in fact Breen is the fastest when it comes to covering space and chasing down opposition players. Both defenders are light on their feet giving them quick timing to change direction to maintain close defending tactics and leaps for rebounds.
Coach Welfare has afforded opportunity to future players like Miai Scharenberg (U15) and Annie Packard (B Grade) to experience the hustle and bustle of A Grade. Both players have demonstrated to have abilities to be on standby for other opportunities.
Are the other teams a threat to St Josephs? Oh yes.
When Vikings get the ball to its goal scoring end the accuracy dominance of Tiana Freeman and Lara Etchells is a menacing dynamism. Regardless of the intensity of opposing defending tactics the duo are magicians in securing possessions to successfully goal. Their success is attributed to exact passes, in particular the high drop pass from Phoebe Hunter and Brittany Pascoe.
Vikings midcourt is fit and matches the skills and abilities of the oppositions. Just have to love the approach Hunter takes to game day. Hunter is very fit and her steady endurance to last a full game is notable. Also observed is her ethics to play a clean game and to brush aside physical bumps and pushes to continue her pursuit to be of value through the centre and midcourt.
Versatility is a strength for Vikings. When required Amelia Etchells not only covers the wing defence position but goal defending and is quite tenacious in keeping close attention to goalies. Playing Coach Casey Lukich can steadfastly hold strength in the centre, wing attack and goal attack positions. Tylah Jackson shares the goal keeping and goal defending positions with Erin Egel but also has the ability to carry out a commendable result in the goal shooting position which means that Lara Etchells diverts into the wing attack position. Egel being a robust focused player never gives up her endeavors to fight for turnovers and with Jackson the duo force opposing goalies to earn their right to face the goal ring.
For Vikings it is knowing when or when not to make positional changes to secure a win when the stakes are high.
Railways know what high stakes are and how to secure the wins. The team has been a hard playing bench marker for the last few years. There is no doubt Claire Schupelius holds the key to victorious games. Her confidence spreads through the team. All the hard tireless work that Laurie Haynes and Mikala Fuller do through the centre is rewarded when Schupelius and Peyton Fuller or Jaedina-Rose Venning net the goals.
The most hard-working of players is M Fuller. Her energy level and ability to save wayward passes on the boundary line is a delight to watch. Haynes duplicates the same talent. The duo are persistent around the goal circle either denying opposing goal circle play or executing the right pass into their own goal circle.
It depends on how playing coach P Fuller reads the strategies being employed by oppositions as to where players are best placed. She plays either goal keeper or goal shooter. Haynes and M Fuller switch in the midcourt, Reliable Brynn Byron-Boles and Lily Fullerton can be delegated out of the goal defending positions to the midcourt. Railways are lucky to have secured the services of Fullerton from Vikings. As a goal keeper Fullerton is a rising star. Jenna Glamuzina as a commendable defender also enhances the final results for the team.
What makes Railways difficult to play against is its determined thirst to win. Opposing players feel the brunt of the willpower and can succumb to the intimidation.
Magpies have had its fair share of feeling the impact of overpowering forces embarrassing its past efforts however not this season. There has been a fresh injection of talent and a rejuvenated bounce in existing players to challenge the harsh tactical play delivered by the top teams. Persistent ongoing leadership via coach Jas Eckert has been the making of a glorious competitive Magpies team.
Magpies' best new talent is goal shooter Kate Brusnahan who is not intimidated by bold assertive defenders. In fact Kate elevates to a higher level of confidence. Such confidence ripples through the rest of the team, more so when Aysha Zada performs courageously in two thirds of the court in the build up to break into the goal circle.
The loyalty from the players to remain together through past heart breaking seasons of defeats has bonded them to the extent of climbing towards being a champion team rather than being a team of individuals filling positions to support a four team A Grade competition. The decision to compete at the elite level has also opened up opportunities for other players in the club to experience A Grade contests which Alyce Bertelsmeier and Stacy Colson can confirm.
Defenders Jessie Maule and Ellie Packard are a respected power in the goal circle making opposing goalies play at their best. They do take impressive rebounds and interceptions to feed the turnovers into Magpies attacking zones. Talia Berry, Kelsey Ellis and Victoria Glen are a masterful trio who keep the ball flowing towards Zada and Brusnahan. The cohesive team work is putting the oppositions on notice for finals time.
In summary there are strengths to the four teams. Regardless of the position on the premiership table at this point in time the right to play in the Grand Final game depends on which teams can muscle through the competitive opposing talent.
It is no surprise that Vikings lead on % with 8 points from Quorn on 8 points, St Joseph 6, Magpies 2 and Railways yet to win a game. The Vikings team line-up is impressive. There is loads of experience with players who have played at A Grade level. Carlee Margitich, Kellie Von Snedden, Bianca Reid, Belinda Myles, Jade Dawson, Kym Bishop and Jessica Freeman are a dream B Grade combination. There have been occasions where the team has offered openings for juniors Shalana Cox and Letarnya Khan to mix with the greats.
Although close wins have not favoured Magpies it has some well experienced players in Tanya Aird, Georgina Hewett, Georgia Irvine, Ebony Janiak, Tyrell Yarran, Bertelsmeier, Ebbony Peter that have faced well-tuned Quorn and St Joseph teams.
Quorn is laden with wonderful junior talent. Most have represented Port Augusta netball at combined level. Tayla Finlay, Jayde Finlay and Meggan Finlay are supported by experienced senior players providing the drive through the court aiming all the time to maintain its winning reputation.
Close on the heels of the leaders is St Josephs. The intention of the team is to rattle the competition to secure a grand final berth. Goalies Annie Packard and Tara Hogg work hard on accuracy, Tara Nayda, Courtney Hannigan and Brooke Groth are determined in the defence line. The most inspiring player is U15 Charlotte Hill who is a skilled and capable of turning a game into a win.
Railways ooze with talent. Think about these names: Eliza Parker, Paige Ashman, Jenna Glamuzina, Kaylanah Reid, Jaedina-Rose Venning, Teraleyha Coulthard, Jayne Rooney, Shaniqwa Stuart and yet the team is struggling to snare a win. Maybe there is a plan for a late dash to make the top four.
There is an inevitable conclusion that Vikings has the premiership all sewn up. Who knows? There are challenging forces to consider like the Quorn team.
U15 DIV 1 TABLE
Railways on 9 points have not lost a game. St Joseph are 2nd on 8 points, Vikings Green 3, Vikings Blue 2 and Quorn 2.