Casual observers could have been forgiven for declaring Hawks Netball’s 19/Under team’s season all but over after four rounds.
With those four fixtures yielding a draw and three losses, as well as scores below 30 in two games, the young Hawks team found the going tough as they adjusted to the standard of VNL competition.
But in a remarkable turnaround, just four weeks later the team is mere percentage points outside the top four, having ridden a four-game winning streak from the bottom of the ladder to fifth.
The Hawks defeated Peninsula Waves by three goals in a nail-biting clash on Sunday afternoon to keep their streak alive and maintain pace with fourth-placed Casey Demons – the team on the other side of the drawn game in Round 1.
Hawks Captain Sienna Green said despite the early season results, the team never lost hope that it could turn the year around.
“After those four rounds we came together as a team and realised we all needed to start playing for each other. We went back to our goals and expectations we wrote up as a team during preseason,” Green said.
“As a team we’ve all been showing up to training, training hard then implementing it into our game, which as a result we’ve walked away these past few weeks with some crucial wins under our belts. What’s special about this 19s team is that we all love each other and just enjoy playing netball together, which comes hand in hand with the success we’ve had lately.”
No more than a goal separated the Hawks and Waves at any of the breaks in the Round 8 clash at Somerville Recreation Centre, with the Hawks leading by a goal at quarter-time and trailing by a goal at both half-time and three-quarter time, but a run of goals from Amy Scott (36 from 40 attempts) in the middle of the quarter was enough for them to run out 49-46 winners.
Green said the importance of the result was huge in the context of the season.
“Yesterday’s win is crucial when looking at the 19/Under ladder. It’s another year where it’s such a tight contest on the ladder and coming in close to the second half of the season it’s important we start to solidify a spot in the top four.
“It was also a great test for the team’s mental toughness in what was a tight game, and definitely a confidence boost. We know now after a few tight games that we have the ability to pull away and show some great fight when put in that vulnerable position. The next few weeks will continue to be a challenge to us but we’re all more than excited to tackle it week in and out together.”
The Hawks now take on seventh-placed Geelong Cougars on Wednesday evening at the State Netball Centre.