Hunter United haven’t had the strongest start to the 2018 Dooleys Metro League, but a 45-42 win over third placed Northern Suburbs could be the catalyst that sparks their title defence.
The Emeralds have lost three of their opening five games, but assistant coach Janine Hobbs believes the squad had the “big click” they were looking for on Thursday evening.
“The roster looks completely different to the one we had in 2017, we retained four women from that squad so we’ve got a lot of new faces and young talents,” Hobbs explained. “The team is in a bit of a rebuilding phase at the moment, but I think last night we saw the ‘big click’.”
The team gelling together against Northern Suburbs boosted goal attack Abbie Gray’s game exponentially as she shot nearly 80 per cent under the goal to lead Hunter United back on track, and Hobbs singled her out as the key impact in the match.
“Gray was everywhere for us, she got in good positions and combined well with [shooter] Katelyn Stansfield, who created a lot of room for her to shoot,” Hobbs said. “We lost a lot of the early rounds by very close scorelines, so to have both our shooters over that 70 per cent mark was key.”
Hobbs also said the backroom staff for the team were impressed with Aneeka Marcozzi’s impact as centre in the second half of the match. Marcozzi replaced young starlet Anna Atkinson, with both earning praise from United’s assistant coach.
“[Marcozzi] came in and really upped the tempo of the game for us, she’s going to be a great pick-up,” Hobbs said. “In the first half, Anna [Atkinson] also had a good run.”
Atkinson, who signed with the club for the season after shining in Scone and in regional leagues, has been a “revelation”, Hobbs said.
“Anna is so young and has all this talent to back up her game,” she said. “It’s a big step up to go to the first division in the Metro League, but she’s taken it in her stride.”
The team is also still waiting on news on Angela Williams’ foot injury, with her absence in goal defence meaning a shift into the defensive circle for sister Kim Williams.
“We’re still waiting on news about Angela, we’re hoping it’s not going to be anything lengthy,” Hobbs confirmed.
In the third division league, the Hunter United Diamonds dropped to ninth place in the standings after falling by just 2 goals to Randwick. The 44-42 scoreline against them leaves them with a 1-5 record six weeks into the competition.
Next Thursday the Emeralds play off against seventh placed Baulkham Hills Shire, while the Diamonds search for their second win Parramatta Auburn on Tuesday evening.