Mystics find Pulse to storm home in nail-biter

DISBELIEF was arguably the consensus felt by anyone who witnessed the Northern Mystics‘ one-goal victory over Central Pulse in their ANZ Premiership clash. In a game for the ages that featured more twists and turns than a M. Night Shyamalan script, it was the reigning premiers who came out on top thanks to a last ditch goal from shooter Grace Nweke followed by a game-saving intercept from goal keeper Sulu Fitzpatrick. When all was said and done, the Mystics emerged victorious 62-61 in a match unlikely to be forgotten any time soon.

The Mystics started the game off strong having backed up from a 20-goal thumping of Southern Steel last Monday, and started off on the right note putting up 20 goals to 17 in the opening term. Nweke was one fire, shooting 19 goals from 20 attempts, and collecting three rebounds, whilst Elisapeta Toeava (nine goal assists from 13 feeds) and Claire O’Brien (seven from seven) were both outstanding, and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (one intercept) busy in defence.

Central Pulse’s Aliyah Dunn up 10 goals from 11 attempts, with partner-in-crime Tiana Metuarau (seven from nine), and wing attack Whitney Souness working well in tandem. The Pulse began to get on top in the second half, but not before they fell five goals behind early. Piling on seven of the next nine goals, the visitors levelled the scores, then made a change with Ainsleyana Puleiata coming on in centre for Erikana Pedersen, whilst their opposing centre O’Brien came off for a rest with Tayla Earle moving from wing defence to centre, and Fa’amu Ioane coming on in wing defence. a couple of minutes later.

Metuarau took control of the match, scoring five of her side’s last six goals, as the Pulse took a three-goal lead (33-30) into the main break. Metuarau was up to 15 goals, whilst Dunn had 18 in a real even spread, whilst Nweke was not as dominant in the second. She put up eight goals from nine attempts, as Kelly Jury picked up a couple of intercepts, and Souness had herself a quarter with nine goal assists and an intercept for her troubles.

The second half saw Toeava and Monica Falkner (three goals from six attempts) have a rest, with O’Brien and Filda Vui coming on respectively for the Mystics, whilst Pedersen returned into the centre bib, The Pulse managed to maintain their advantage after the Mystics levelled the scores in the first five minutes, as Dunn and Metuarau scored four consecutive goals to lead 39-35. That prompted a chance og Carys Stythe coming on in goal defence for Sokolich-Beatson, and the Mystics drew to within two at the final break.

Central Pulse backed its lineup for the final term, with Falkener, Toeava and Sokolich-Beatson all returning through the midpoint of the quarter for the Mystics. At one stage, the Pulse lead by as much as six goals (57-51) midway through the term and looked certain to take the win. But from that point, the Mystics would score 11 of the next 15 goals, with Nweke firing eight of the next nine for the Mystics to somehow hit the front and actually put them to a 61-58 lead with two minutes to spare.

Remarkabl;y, the Pulse kept at it, and turned it around by scoring the next three, as Metuarau held her nerve. The midcourt did not waste a chance with possession, choosing to chew time off the clock, something the Mystics would do to get it to Nweke with seven seconds remaining. The towering shooter put it in, and with three seconds on the clock, the Pulse tried to fire it in to the waiting Dunn in the circle, but the Mystics combination of Sokolich-Beatson and Fitzpatrick were ready, with the latter, grabbing a clean intercept and saving the day for the Mystics to win, 62-61.

Earle won Most Valuable Player for 10 goal assists from 18 feeds, and three intercepts. Nweke powered her way to 54 goals from 59 attempts, and nine rebounds. O’Brien picked up a team-high 19 goal assists, whilst Fitzpatrick was consistent throughout the four quarters. For the Pulse, Souness had an enormous 30 goal assists, whilst Dunn (38 goals from 41 attempts) and Metuarau (23 from 30, 13 goal assists and one intercept) both shared the scoring load.

The Northern Mystics have back-to-back Round 4 games up against Southern Steel and Mainland Tactix next weekend, whilst the Central Pulse clash with the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic on Sunday.

NORTHERN MYSTICS 20 | 10 | 16 | 16 (62)
CENTREL PULSE 17 | 16 | 15 | 13 (61)

Most Valuable Player: Tayla Earle (Northern Mystics)

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