Falcons swoop in last to upset reigning premiers
ALTONA Falcons produced a stunning final term to take down M-League Premier Mixed reigning champions Geelong in a memorable one-goal nail-biter. Billed as a top three clash, the Falcons lived up to expectations after losing to Parkville last week, to win 53-52 on Court 6 despite the victors missing plenty of key players.
It was a remarkable performance from the Falcons who had to pick up the pieces from the loss to the Panthers just a week earlier, and without a great deal of returning players. Still missing the likes of Deepak Patu, Maddison McKiernan, Montana Holmes and Josh Smith, the Falcons were up against it, taking on a strong Geelong outfit.
Geelong started off the match edging ahead 15-14, then blew the lead out to five by the main break. Cameron Allum had 18 goals to half-time, while his partner-in-crime Zanna Woods put up 13 and looked influential. Minus Jake Noonan in the midcourt until the last term, Geelong still managed to grab the ascendancy early, as the defensive pairing of Sarah Szczykulski and Gerard Murphy was holding up at the back.
Both sides scored 14 goals in the third, with the Falcons remarkably having no rotation options unlike the reigning champions. Altona’s shooting pair of Andrew Lewis and Chelsea Imanisani kept the side in the game, with Bess Schnioffsky was relentless at wing defence, stemming the flow of Geelong and not making it easy for the title contender.
In a remarkable final term, the Falcons piled on 13 goals to seven despite Noonan coming to the court in centre, with Murphy subbed off from goal keeper, and Allum moved into defence. That move did not seem to pay dividends despite gaining Brodie McCleish in the shooting circle for the final term. Peta Fay and Nathan Selvidge – the latter moved to goal defence in the last quarter – teamed up well to nullify the Geelong shooters in the final 15 minutes and enjoy the victory.
There were no such concerns for other contender Parkville Panthers, who put Ariels to the sword during a 43-goal thrashing (74-31) on Court 2. Scoring no less than 14 goals in a quarter – and a whopping 44 goals after half-time – there was no stopping the Panthers as Kaylia Stanton, Amy Starzer, Connor Lilly and Brodie Roberts only needed a half each to showcase the ridiculous depth. Lilly was named best-on for 23 goals in a half, while Riley Richardson and Bridget Aughton stood out in centre and goal defence.
NNE Vipers got back on the board with a commanding 37-goal win over Eastside Sonics. The Vipers were firmly in control of the match, particularly after half-time, and after blowing the lead out to 20 goals at the final break, piled on 21 goals to four in the final term to make it a statement victory of 66-29. Bridget Ryan played a mixture of wing defence, goal shooter and goal attack to star in the win, while Ben Bruitzman was also influential through the midcourt. Rebecca Anstey was the best for the Sonics, playing out of goal defence and wing defence.
In the other match, Valley Wolves won a hard-fought low-scoring contest against LTU, 48-37. While LTU has been more traditionally involved in shootouts, the side was missing shooter Liam Killey, and instead Ethan Spiteri stepped in to shoot 25 of his side’s 37 goals. Karina Martin was the best on court with her performance in the defensive half, while Brayden Pastore shot 27 goals in three quarters for the Wolves.
M-LEAGUE PREMIER MIXED ROUND 8 RESULTS:
Altona Falcons (53) defeated Geelong (52)
Pakville Panthers (74) defeated Ariels (31)
NNE Vipers (66) defeated Eastside Sonics (29)
Valley Wolves (48) defeated LTU (37)