Junior State Cup Report - Girls U14

The Girls U14 side travelled to Port Macquarie full of enthusiasm and anticipation for their first Junior State Cup. The girls had all put in a considerable effort at training for 3 months in readiness for the event and were keen to get out there and show the world what they could do.  The side was drawn in Pool 1 with number one ranked side Manly and other strong contenders in the competition. Pool 1 was also the largest with 7 teams in it compared to the others with only 6 teams so a 7 round competition, including a bye, was required to determine which teams would progress to the finals.
On Friday night the heavens opened and we arrived at the grounds on Saturday to find ankle deep water and mud all around.  With 12,000 players, officials and spectators walking around the venue, it quickly became a bog, including many of the playing fields.  Our first game was at 8.00am against Central Coast and the girls burst straight out of the blocks scoring in the first 5 minutes and then racing to a 4-0 lead. Central Coast hit back late in the game but it was too little too late with Ballina winning the match 4-2. A fantastic start to the tournament for the team, but there was much tougher opposition to come.
Our second game was against Parramatta in a physical game with the girls being subjected to some very rough play at times.  Whilst the girls were very committed in their efforts, Parramatta ended up winning the match 7-0. This was a valuable learning experience for the team to see how the more experienced city sides play the game. The scoreline was not a reflection of the effort put in by the girls nor of the difference between the sides with Parramatta getting all the luck in the match. 
Manly were next and the competition favourites showed why they were regarded as that. Again the Ballina girls performed to the best of their ability but Manly ran out comfortable winners 9-0 in a match played in good spirits throughout.         
Onto match number 4 against Doyalson. The legs were starting get a little weary by now, as much from walking around (and of course the obligatory sliding and mucking around!) in the mud as playing the games and it showed in the team’s performance.  We lost the match 4-0 and the girls were disappointed in their efforts in a game which was very much winnable for them. However this is all part of the learning experience and the side was determined to regroup for Sunday after having the benefit of the bye in the last timeslot on Saturday afternoon.
Sunday morning came around and we were up against Muswellbrook, a team that was sweeping all before them in the competition with big winning scores. We drew the worst field at the venue and it was a very scrappy game with Muswellbrook winning 7-0. This was a very creditable performance from the side and lifted their confidence for the last round match.
Our final game was against Wollongong, on field 1 in front of a big crowd and the majority of club tents for the weekend. The girls were outstanding in this match, running away with the game to win 5-0. This was a fitting finale for the weekend and it was very noticeable how much difference a dry track made to the performance of the team.
Overall the side finished 5th in their pool of 7 teams, a great achievement from a side that all bar one player can participate in the U14 division again next year. It also needs to be remembered that the overall runners up in the competition, the third placed side and another side from the top 8 were in our pool.
The girls all voted on a 3-2-1 basis for their player of the match in each game with the scores tallied to give a player’s player award for the weekend. Third place was a tie between Charlotte Yager and Mikayla Hofmeyer and second place went to Lily Evans. The player’s player award for the weekend went to Lucy Turner who received the team ball signed by all of the girls.
A coaches award was also presented and this went to Lucy Ivey for her dedication to the team, training and her performances across the weekend.  Overall it was a successful tournament for the side. They have learned an enormous amount from this experience and next year can’t come around quick enough for them. In the interim the side will be looking to play at carnivals on the Gold Coast across Winter to keep their eye in for next season.
A big thank you goes to all of the parents for getting the girls to training etc. and their support of the team across the weekend. In particular, Assistant Coach Kathryn Hofmeyer and Manager Kyla Fay put in an enormous effort to handle all of the off-field stuff including accommodation, ordering uniforms, collecting money, transport, attending NSW Touch meetings etc. etc.
Scott Turner, Coach.


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