Nothing to lose
What a difference 12 months can make. Last year Warrack Eagles soared into the finals as one of the favourites after claiming a minor premiership with a 14-2 season.
This season they are, if anything, flying under the radar.
While they Eagles have not hit the same heights as they did during their 2018 campaign, they have quietly cobbled together another solid season and will enter the post-season with nothing to lose.
Co-coach Sarah Spicer said the team had embraced an underdog identity and was determined simply to do its best.
“We’ll go in with a ‘see what happens’ attitude and no pressure,” she said.
“We’re definite underdogs going into the finals being fifth on the ladder. We’re happy with how we’re going, and we have the mindset of ‘who knows what could happen?’ each game.”
Spicer said part of the reason the Eagles had failed to hit the same lofty heights as last season were the departures of two key players.
Tall goalie Meg Werner and speedy midcourter Zandria Malone were offseason losses, leaving the Eagles with a distinct lack of height in the goal ring.
“We’re running with two short goalies in Molly Stewart and Briodi Mckenzie, who have done an amazing job,” she said.
“For defenders I guess they give a bit of a different look, because usually there is a tall goalie in most teams. It’s been different for us in how we play, and we’ve had to work around that. Some weeks we’ve been really good, other weeks not so good. If the goals don’t fall in it’s hard for us to get
rebounds. We’re not the same team we were last year, but we’ve had a really good year and really enjoyed it.”
While the departures of Werner and Malone have made it more difficult for the Eagles to win games, Spicer said the experience the changes allowed the club’s younger players to gain was invaluable.
“We’re happy with the development of Molly Stewart who has come in at goal shooter. She’s only 15 and she has had a stellar year,” she said.
“In some games we’ve also had Casey Quick who is in the 17-and-under side play off the bench, and two or three other 17-and-under girls have played in B Grade.
“The future of the club looks great, and sometimes that’s the main thing. If you can’t be at the top of the ladder, if we can be blooding the junior girls up for the future, that’s a massive plus for the club.”
With plenty of experience still left in the side – including Jess Kelly at goal keeper, Emma Koschitzke at wing attack and Spicer herself playing mainly at centre, she said the team remained a chance of upsetting higher-ranked opponents in the finals.
“Even though they’re short in stature, Molly and Briodi are accurate in goals, and if they turn it on, who knows?” she said.
“When we all play well as a team, that’s when we’ve been at our best.
“We can’t rely on one or two players just to play really well and get us a win. With Horsham they’ve got Emma Buwalda and she’s massive for their team. We don’t have a player like that – we all need to play well in order to win.”