ARound the grounds - rd 11

The reputation of the OMFNL as one of Victoria’s premier netball competitions was underlined when both of our representative sides made finals at the Association Championships in Melbourne.

In reaching the last-four at the State Netball Centre, our open-age and 17-and-under sides had to show not only a high level of skill but mental resilience and physical toughness on a relentless day of action in the city.

Defeat in their opening pool match against the Goulburn Valley left the seniors needing to respond – and they duly did.

After bouncing back with a 15-9 win over Parkville, a buzzer-beater from Taylor Donelan secured a precious 15-14 victory against Western before the OMFNL swept past Hoppers Crossing, Northern Pride, the Northern League and Whitehorse to make it six wins in a row.

Second place on the ladder set up a semi-final clash with the Hampden League, who proved too strong in a 19-6 victory.

But for coach Noel Halton, though, pride in defeat was plentiful.

“It’s always disappointing to lose a final when you’ve worked so hard all day,” Halton admitted. “But we were beaten by a really good side on the day and there wasn’t much we could do about it; they came out firing.

“To our girls’ credit, they did a good job all day and they should hold their heads high because they’ve done their league proud.

“Overall, it was a good result to make finals and they’ll hopefully be better for the experience next year.”

Led by Jodie and Shaylah House, the 17&U side played 12 games across an epic day in Melbourne, winning five of their first six and drawing the other in a powerful start.

But three defeats in their next five games took a little wind out of the sails and the OMFNL run came to an end in the semi-final where Ballarat prevailed 16-8 to reach the decider.

“The girls felt like they’ve let everyone down by not getting all the way through to a grand final,” Jodie House said.

“But they need to rejoice in the successes they’ve had and make that their focus because the quality of netball they play at this standard in Melbourne is huge.

“To make a semi-final is an outstanding result for our girls.”

Wodonga duo Lily McKimmie and Molly Moylan shot at a high percentage all day while Albury’s Kijana McCowan caught the eye with her performances at goal keeper.

“The talent in the 17&U competition at this level is ridiculous,” Shaylah House added.

“I don’t think our girls quite realise how good and how consistent they were.

“They should all be proud of themselves.”

OPEN TEAM: Taylor Donelan, Mackensey House, Eliza Mooney, Maggie St John, Emily Stewart (Wodonga Raiders), Grace Hay, Madison Lieschke (North Albury), Indianna Frauenfelder, Sally Hunter (Corowa Rutherglen), Laura Ryan (Yarrawonga), Amanda Umanski (Wangaratta).

17&U TEAM: Sophia Kotzur, Zali Macklan, Sophie Sleight, Neeve Taylor, Mackenzie Thomson (Wodonga Raiders), Abbey Bloye, Meg Foley, Lily McKimmie, Molly Moylan (Wodonga), Aleira McCowan, Kijana McCowan (Albury), Skylah McPherson (Myrtleford).