The weather may have been gloomy on Sunday, but the football at Rutherglen was anything but.
Sunday morning started with thick fog and clouds approaching Barkly Park. The sun was unable to muster the effort to break through the low cloud, and so the Under-14s started their game in a shroud of fog that may have concealed their effort for the first half of the game. Contrary to the weather, the match accelerated in three quarter time and the young Felines won their first victory of the season.
The Under 17s followed with a great game full of team spirit and tenacity. Finally, the Senior Felines took to the pitch for an exciting game against Rovers. The seniors sealed the deal by securing the Murray Felines’ third victory for the day.
In the cold and foggy conditions described above, the young felines appeared to get their usual slow start where they invited their opposition to a convenient advance. Thanks to superb long bombs from their all-around striker, Wangaratta Rovers took the lead and command of the game until three-quarters of the time.
Slowly but surely the young Felines managed to snatch terms against Rovers but struggled to score the required goals. Abbey Ibrahim in the center was the best on the pitch in her display of running and handling. Carrington Schmidt showed his usual determination throughout the game and his slightly unorthodox method of smothering the ball at times.
Three quarters from time, the Felines were down 11 points, but the feeling was that if they were able to score the opening goal, they would be back in the game. True to their word, the Felines lifted and dominated the last quarter.
It was Ted Hopkins who scored 4 goals in the second half of the 1970 Grand Final to sink the hearts of many Collingwood fans. Marlie Smith channeled her best Ted Hopkins and pulled off a similar feat in the final quarter.
With Abbey Ibrahim getting clean possession from the centre, Marlie Smith became a direct thread in the front line, scoring one and scoring 2 more. As Abbey and Marlie were in full swing, center field referee David Carroll struggled to follow play and was caught a few times staring at the ball a few yards out. won their first victory of the season.
It’s a great testament to the team playing for fun and playing the game in good spirits regardless of the score. It was great to see the young Felines win their first match and their celebrations afterwards.
Murray Felines 4.2-26 beat Wangaratta Rovers
Goals: Ebony Brunskill-Mills, Carrington Schmidt, Taylor Taborsky, Marlie Smith
Best: Abbey Ibrahim, Carrington Schmidt, Anastasia Lairson, Ebony Brunskill-Mills, Marlie Smith, Alexia Nagle
The fog had still not lifted at the start of this game when the Felines faced a much-improved Wangaratta Rovers Under-17 side. The Felines had a number of absent players and so it was great to see a number of Under-14 teams show up and play with the more senior squad.
The first quarter was a real struggle with the ball moving freely down the field. The Felines slowly managed to dominate forward possession but struggled to convert their chances. The team went into the first break one goal up, but the game was still up for grabs.
As the second and third quarters progressed, the Felines were able to flex their muscles and fight their way to a dominant lead. For a change, the Felines managed to score incredible goals, which, to an untrained eye, might have seemed somewhat random!
The backline was resolute in their defense and the midfield was on top again. Ali Jackson was exceptional in the middle, earning plenty of clearances to the center in front of the circle thanks to creative handballs from Ava Loughnan.
Georgia Thomas provided a solid focal point up front and capped off a solid day by scoring 6 goals.
Olivia Cheeseman continues to impress with her creativity around the centre-forward. Her incredible ability to avoid packs up close with three players hanging from her is a skill that many others will struggle to emulate.
Coach Brad Nicholson was pleased with the consistency of the entire team’s contribution.
“Although we had some good players who stood out, everyone played their part and that creates great team dynamics,” he said.
“To name a few, it would have to include Phina Muscat from the back half, Milly Cheesemen who is getting better every week and Mia Spiteri and Emily Cooper. But really, I was very happy with the effort of the whole team. Wangaratta Rovers improved considerably and the game was a much better competition than the scoreboard might have indicated.
Murray Felines 12.14-86 beat Wangaratta Rovers 0.1-1
Goals: Georgia Thomas 6, Ava Loughnan 2, Ali Jackson, Anna Mitchell, Paige Duffy, Joey Shepherdson
Best: Ali Jackson, Paige Duffy, Hannah Loughnan, Ava Loughnan, Georgia Thomas, Emily Cooper, Olivia Cheeseman.
Fog and low cloud were still around Barkly Park at the start of the open game, hiding much like the unwanted parent at a family reunion.
However, there was nothing undesirable about this game of football with the ball moving freely and ferociously down the length of the pitch.
Wangaratta Rovers got off to a great start by scoring the first two goals of the game.
Rovers led by VFLW player Mikaela Trethowan were generating plenty of drive from the center and really testing the Felines back line.
However, as the quarter progressed, the Senior Felines were able to settle in and bring the game back to their terms.
Solid forward work from Sophie Nicholson and Paige Duffy saw Felines take the lead from Rovers and enter the first break one goal clear.
At all addresses, coach Matt Andison calmly asked his players to focus on the essentials and recover from each match.
The second quarter was a great fight with Rovers’ fluid midfield dominating and Felines recovering. Slowly, the Felines were able to close Mikeala Trethowan’s run and started winning much of the contested football.
As the Felines took a good lead at half-time, the sun joined in the festivities, finally breaking through the cloud and illuminating the ground with golden light.
The contribution of players under 17 who stepped up was greatly appreciated. Phina Muscat played the match of her career from the fullback pairing it with the stronger bodies of the senior girls. Ali Jackson started where she left off in the Under-17 game and along with Paige Duffy, was able to provide the spark of pace around the field.
In the baseline, Kaitlyn Robinson played her usual stoic Black Knight game and didn’t allow a ball past her. His reading of the play to get into early position and his no-nonsense elimination techniques are an example for everyone.
Mietta Habets dominated the ruck with her incredible vertical leap and Yasmine Budic worked the game crumbling around each pack.
Caitlin Somerville, who just celebrated her 18th birthday, was somewhat slow to start but provided real competition at center forward. In the third quarter, Caitlin moved forward to score the ball and put the Felines ahead of the game.
The final quarter was very exciting as Rovers scored the opening goal and their midfielder threatened to steal the game from Felines. However, the team stuck to the basics and started winning the ball on their own terms. In the end, the Felines won a very exciting and high-level match.
Murray Felines 9.5-59 beat Wangaratta Rovers 5.3-33
Goals: Sophie Nicholson 3, Paige Duffy 2, Caitlin Somerville, Kaitlyn Robinson, Jane McInnes, Samara Ferguson.
Best: Kaitlyn Robinson, Jane McInnes, Sophie Nicholson, Ali Jackson, Paige Duffy, Chloe Mitchell, Mietta Habets.