Noth­ing to lose

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Wfl Finals - BY COLIN MACGIL­LIVRAY

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.”

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