Two losses to start the season hasn’t been disastrous for Forsythes Business Advisors, but for a club that has made finals every year since joining the Greater Open Championship, it’s not a perfect start.
Despite the less than ideal opening three weeks, head coach Traci Baber hasn’t begun to worry about the team’s finals chances yet, and has faith in her new-look squad to challenge in the “toughest season to date”.
“This year’s competition has been so close already, every team has to turn up every week to win,” Baber said.
“We haven’t even thought about the fact Pride hasn’t won a game yet – they will be just as challenging as anyone else come game day, and we will be remembering that.”
“The start we’ve had isn’t a concern, we still believe we will make the push for finals – it’s the one patch I haven’t got yet so the girls know how much it means to me to be aiming for it.”
Despite the strengthening Novocastrian competition, Baber believes her off-season recruitment will be crucial as the finals stalwarts gun for another top four finish.
The Forsythes top-boss pointed to Scone recruit Anna Atkinson as one of the focal points of her 2018 campaign, as well as a collection of representative players shes assembled in the light-blue and white.
“This season saw the most changes in all of the teams, there was a lot of player movement,” Baber said. “We got the chance to pick up a number of good players for the team, including Anna [Atkinson] from Scone, and we have a number of Premier League and Hunter United girls in the squad too.”
As well as Atkinson joining the ranks, Forsythes’ squad has been bolstered by new circle defenders Keeley Mullins and Veronica Smith – both of whom have been key to covering injuries in early rounds – as well as new-look shooter Bronte Magin.
“The start of the season has been a little tough with injuries [in defence], but everyone has stepped up and it’s a long season – we have a long way to go yet,” Baber said.
“We’re only three weeks in so far, but the defence with Mullins and Smith is looking really strong, and Magin has linked well with Sabina [Gomboso]. Atkinson has also shown a lot of dedication, she makes the trip from Scone to play and that’s really impressive.”
Baber will be absent for the fourth round match, with co-coach Janine Hobbs taking over for the weekend.
While Forsythes and Pride clash to avoid the bottom spot, Souths Lions and Nova Thunder are keeping their eyes on first place in the other 2.30pm clash.
Both teams lost for the first time last weekend, and will be looking to bounce back and retain their early holds over finals positions, as well as a chance to bump a direct rival slightly down the ladder.
In the later time slot at 3.45pm, Maryville Tavern Alize come up against BNC Whanau, while defending champions West Leagues Balance 1 faces off against Wests 2 in the first clash of the two Tracey Baggs-helmed squads.
TABLE: Wests 1 (13), Souths Lions (11), Nova Thunder (11), BNC Whanau (11), Wests 2 (9), Maryville Tavern (9), Forsythes (9), Souths Pride (7).