Written by Jarryd Barca
The Calder Cannons responded to its only loss of the NAB League season in Round 4 with an impressive victory over the Murray Bushrangers on the weekend.
The Round 5 contest at Highgate Recreation Reserve proved to be the girls’ fourth win in five weeks, placing them in third position on the ladder with just four matches remaining.
The usual slow starts that have been incumbent on the girls’ season to date went out the window, recording the only three goals of the first term to establish a decisive deficit.
It was six goals to five thereafter, the Cannons keeping the Bushrangers at bay and holding onto a 9.7 (61) to 5.4 (34) result.
The resilience shown by the Cannons will please the coaches after the Bushrangers outscored them in the second term and booted the opening two majors in the final quarter to reel in a reachable margin.
But the leaders stood up when it mattered most to ensure all four points remained with the home side.
“From the coaches box knowing you’ve got the different leaders – Flick (Felicity Theodore), Georgia (Patrikios) and some of the other girls stepping up in that last quarter – all of a sudden we’re back on top and kicking another goal and it comes from unselfish play like Zoe Hardiman giving a flick over the top just to get someone involved,” Under 18 girls forward coach Luke Russell said.
“That’s leadership and that’s what changes a game. You have so much more confidence in the girls to do the right things.”
The Cannons recorded 40 more disposals for the game and out-tackled their opponents (48-45) at the same time.
Russell said he was proud of the side’s response to its loss against the Chargers the previous week.
“We spoke a lot about widening the ground and really using our runners,” he said.
“The big thing was it’s just a football game, we lost, we’re still getting to play footy and footy is the fun thing, it’s about making training fun and making the atmosphere fun.
“Wanting to improve is a big thing as well, we keep telling the girls to maximise training time to improve and get better each week, have fun doing it but improve.”
The Cannons are enjoying a solid season in the reformed NAB League Girls competition after celebrating a win on just two occasions during 2018.
“(Four and one) is a lot better than being one and four I reckon, there’s not as much pressure on us at the moment, but obviously the main thing is the improvement in the girls, one and four and every girl improving would be just as good as being four and one and the girls are improving,” Russell said.
Captain Georgia Patrikios (one goal) and midfield counterpart Alana Barba (two goals) starred with 24 and 21 possessions respectively, while Georgie Prespakis increased her goals tally to 10 for the season.
Russell sung the praises of some other key performers.
“Zoe Hardiman was huge, especially her leadership in the forward half,” he said.
“Tahlia Gillard is a 15-year-old 187cm and just getting better and better, they’re not going to be able to go with her, she should have gotten five more free kicks. Down back ‘Flick’ Theodore with that run, Kiara Delia and Kasey Lennox really set us up.
“Barba and (Laura) Cocomello around the contest really give us something different and you can see the difference between us and other sides having two people that are really contested. Neve Crowley as a 15-year-old playing centre-half forward every week is getting better and Gloria Elarmaly’s attack on the ball was really impressive.”
The Cannons sit third on the table with a healthy percentage of 205.90 heading into their Round six clash against the fifth-placed Eastern Ranges this Sunday.