Youth and ex­pe­ri­ence com­bine

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Netball Countdown - BY SARAH SCULLY

Stawell will look to con­sol­i­date an im­proved 2016 sea­son by ad­vanc­ing even fur­ther in 2017.

The War­riors made a re­turn to Wim­mera Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion fi­nals last year af­ter a tough 2015, de­feat­ing Dim­boola and War­rack Ea­gles be­fore falling short of Minyip-mur­toa in the pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal.

Stawell has re­tained the ma­jor­ity of last sea­son’s play­ers, al­though A Grade coach Kelly Cos­son has made sev­eral changes to her line-up.

The War­riors have lost de­fender Kel­lie Som­merville, who has left Stawell be­cause of work com­mit­ments, but will cover the loss with re­cruit Jo­hanna Kelly.

“Jo­hanna is new to the club. She’s a new doc­tor in town and she’s go­ing to play a de­fen­sive role for us,” Cos­son said.

“We’ve also picked up Heidi Sud­holz, who played for Ru­pa­nyup last year. She’s started as a teacher in Stawell and is look­ing for­ward to be­ing part of a lo­cal club and play­ing sport.”

Sud­holz will play in the mid­court.

Cos­son has also el­e­vated two play­ers still el­i­gi­ble for 17 and un­ders.

Tarnee Orr will play in the mid­court, while new­comer Mag­gie Clough will play in the mid­court and goals af­ter trans­fer­ring from Navarre.

The team has re­tained mid­courter-shooter Jemma Clarkson, de­fender Lisa Flem­ing, goalie Ebony Sum­mers and mid­courter-de­fender Maddi Jelly.

“I’m re­ally happy with the team,” Cos­son said.

“We’ve got a re­ally good blend of youth, with the girls who are still el­i­gi­ble for 17 and un­ders, and ex­pe­ri­ence through the girls who have spent sev­eral years in A Grade.”

Cos­son said the club had at­tracted good num­bers through­out pre-sea­son.

“All teams have been se­lected. We have eight in each squad, ex­cept for the un­der­13s, who have a team of 10,” she said.

“Our un­der-13s un­for­tu­nately lost the grand fi­nal af­ter an un­de­feated sea­son, which was dis­ap­point­ing for them af­ter a great year.

“All grades will be aim­ing to fin­ish higher this year than last year.

“Our fo­cus is to fin­ish as high as we can – we’re def­i­nitely aim­ing for fi­nals for all grades.”

Cos­son said A Grade would look to adopt a dif­fer­ent style of game play for 2017.

“We’ve been work­ing on some things we haven’t done be­fore, de­vel­op­ing some new strategies, such as be­ing more de­fen­sive when we’re bring­ing the ball down the court,” she said.

Cos­son said it was dif­fi­cult to know what the com­pe­ti­tion would have in store this year.

“We have four new play­ers and some of the play­ers who were part of the team last year will be play­ing dif­fer­ent po­si­tions this year,” she said. “We’re a rel­a­tively new side and it will take us a while to gel and get the mix right.

“It will also take us a good round to get to know ev­ery­one else’s game style.”

Stawell will launch its 2017 Wim­mera Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion cam­paign against tra­di­tional ri­val Ararat on Good Fri­day.

“It’s not far away,” Cos­son said. “It feels like we haven’t played net­ball in a re­ally long time. We started try­outs in the first week of Fe­bru­ary so we’re def­i­nitely ready and look­ing for­ward to it.”

YOUNG GUN: Goalie Ebony Sum­mers, pic­tured play­ing against Ararat last year, will be back in ac­tion for Stawell in 2017. The War­riors and the Rats will go head to head in round one. Pic­ture: DON PHILLIPS

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