River Murray Netball Association 21 and under team of the tear named

The time of year has come when I sit and look at the season and who of our younger A grade River Murray netball players were noticed on court and thereby made the important write-ups, submitted by clubs.

This age of players is so important to the growth and stability of our competition and although they do not generally poll well in the best and fairest votes against our more experienced players, they are noticed week in and week out.

However, before listing our team there are some younger players who may have had some time up in the A grade as fill-ins, who also deserve some recognition.

They are from Meningie, Chelsea Swan and Meaghan Lewis from the 15 and under competition.

Both of these players have had court time in our A grade competition and both handled the pressure quite admirably.

While from our 17 and under competition, Annabelle O'Neil from Rambler and Phoebe Wegener for Mannum, both have also played in games with their respective A grade teams.

These players are just some of our "future".

So, in announcing our team of the year, besides votes from write ups, I have also taken into account positioning, for this team selected this season, will be invited to represent our association in the A grade competition of the Country Championships in 2020.

Starting within our goal scoring end of play we have;

Courtney Afford, Jervois

Afford is a strong, confident player who only a few years ago had thought her time on court was over, but through hard work and dedication she was able to return to the game she loved.

As a goaler, Afford is also a very strong defensive player who is able to intercept throughout the centre court area of play.

A talker by nature she always encourages and leads by example, her team-mates around her. Loves to be challenged and is never afraid to give something new ago.

She is bodily strong; she can take and handle most defensive attempts against her as she will fight hard for possession of the ball.

A player that can also give her team strong defensive representation throughout the centre court area and in fact could just about play any other position almost as equally well.

Gemma Horstmann, Mannum

Horstmann is new to the full-time position of goal attack for Mannum. New to the A grade this season as a fully-fledged senior player she is quick both physically and mentally.

Hortsmann for defenders is one of those goal attacks that is never predictable, for this season she has learnt a lot from playing with long time experienced goal shooter and Association team of the year member Amy Loechel.

Horstmann is a quiet worker who listens very well to the senior players around her, confident with her hands in going into attack, she is a hard player to steal a ball away from.

Not as experienced defensively as Afford but it is only a matter of time before she adds this asset to her game.

Lucy O'Neil, Rambler

Although technically still a 17 and under player, Lucy O'Neil has stepped up to playing for her club;s top side. Another player that is bodily strong, O'Neil is a confident player.

She does not like it when defenders try to upstage control for the ball in her end of play, therefore she will return commitment for that ball, control with vigour and determination for the ball.

A very accurate shooter, O'Neil has benefited playing both in the A grade and the 17 and under competition this season and believe it or not she does know the difference.

Some love to see her at goal attack, but with Afford and Horstmann in this team goal shooter is where I see O'Neil fitting in.

The reason for this is she knows how to read the play as it comes down the court, so she knows just how to hold and where to utilise her strengths to gain the ball on feeds into the circle.

She does not run around and use up energy, she just holds, watches and makes the last second leads to gain possession, generally within a reasonable distance to the post.

Now we move into the centre third area of play;

Kenisha Seidel, Rambler

Generally seen in goals Seidel has stepped out from a scoring position to take on the role of feeding accurately into the goal circle, and it is when she has done this change that she has featured in our player votes.

Seidel is fast and has a very quick reflex speed when eluding her opposition player, she can dodge, roll off or just use pure speed to get away from her wing defender.

Passing into the circle generally finds it's mark, for who better to feed the shooters with accuracy than a goalie themselves. Defensively she is not afraid to challenge for any ball that comes within her vicinity, strong hands and a strong voice bring two more assets to her playing resume.

If needed can back up into goals as a fourth option, but does love the opportunity to run and challenge without the responsibility of then shooting the goal.

Due to the fact that she is also an umpire, she also has a very good understanding of the game.

Tegan Afford, Jervois

Afford is a young new player to A grade this season, very fast and very quick, is quite strong in the air.

A player that can play just about any position on court, at centre will put in 100% to chasing and looking for dominance of the ball.

Not afraid of who she stands, she will try her best against anyone, although this season she did have some injuries that did slow her down a little, that should all change as she grows in confidence, strength and belief in her own abilities.

She is strong in the air she has quick reflexes for intercepts or deflections, which she will then chase down to take control of the play.

Having played in goals during her junior years she also does know how to put a ball into the circle and can hold her spot on the circle with body strength.

Emily Paech, Mannum

Paech is not a tall player but she is a quick grounded player. She appears from nowhere to be that annoying player that can sneak in and intercept a ball.

She has the ability to apply pressure almost without reason or understanding by her attacking opponents.

She has played in her team for a few seasons now and has not hesitated to listen and learn from her senior team-mates around her.

Playing this season with two tall defenders behind her, she has provided that shorter in front option, when her team has intercepted and driven the ball back into attack.

A good confident player to provide that attacking back up within the centre third when needed.

Georgia Exton, Tailem Bend

Representing Tailem Bend as the "I can play any position" player is Exton provides a little extra height when needed, a confident player she can give any coach a hard fast task master in at centre, then can provide the confident feeder from the wing attack position.

When asked to take on an opposing centre and make them work hard, she can give a games worth of work and energy to run her opposing player into the ground in the first half and then step back into the wing position to continue with passing accuracy.

Although not a rowdy player she does display a confidence in herself and those around her, she can also start at wing attack then provide those fresh running legs in a centre after half time, a very versatile attacking player.

These are the four players that can bring to this team the confidence in both attacking and defending that is necessary at this level of competition.

That leaves us with the defence end of this team, the end of court that can turn ball over to give this team the added shooting opportunities it will need to take out a win.

Brigette Lewis, Meningie

Lewis can play any of the three defence positions but it is at wing defence and goal defence we will see her the most.

The reason for that is she is a runner, she likes to have space and movement up her sleeve, to use against her opponents.

A quiet player she moves by stealth, can appear to be behind the ball when challenging against an opponent, then comes through in the last moment with her long arms to take the ball quite literally, out of the hands of the opposition.

A natural athlete I am sure she can achieve whatever she puts her mind too, possibly with relative ease of movement and almost with a natural instinct of body movement.

A player that spectators love to watch play, no matter the opposition Lewis brings a freshness to any team, she also has that natural ability to settle emotions and change her thinking, when an opponent makes an attempt to get on top of her.

Kiarra Paech, Tailem Bend

Paech is what coaches refer to as "one tough nut to crack", a tight defender she does not shy away for anything or anyone.

Paech can not just play but can also run a mean game in at centre, although maintaining intensity for a whole game at centre, is something she does at times find hard to do.

When placed in at goal defence she can use that intensity for a far shorter run of play than in at centre, she has a very quick reaction time when taking up a close defensive position on her attackers.

When she is mentally switched on, she is a tough opposition that can inject herself into the minds of her opponents.

When she can do this, she has the advantage over the player she is standing with close bodily play.

If there is a flaw it is that sometimes she can be a little too tight and give away unfortunate penalties, which at times is not be too bad, but she needs to refine what is the best place to give and not to give a penalty away from.

Taylor Poole, Mannum

Poole spent some of this season not only in the A grade but also in the A reserves team for Mannum, due mainly to the return this year of Tracy Dabinett at goal keeper.

Poole also played in the association side that played at the Country Championships.

Poole is a relative new comer to the defence end of play, for she spent most of her early years in goals, but all of those years of experience has been able to give her an understanding of what is needed.

A tall, good reader of the play, she is learning her craft as the last line of defence, a strong rebounder she can return control of the play to her team on missed shooting chances from her opposition.

Not an overly aggressive defender, she is the type of player that does not attract undue attention from the umpires, which in itself, is an asset to any team.

****

So, I present to you the 21 and under MV Standard Team of the Year for 2019.

Some people may ask where are the players from Imperials and Mypolonga the simple answer is, no players fulfill the age criteria for either club.

There are some players in the A reserve sides that could also be considered for this team and I could list a few that could step into this team as reserves, but where do I stop?

Many promising players are on the rise and these players need to be encouraged to continue their growth.

Season 2019 has been a season of ups and downs; Imperials again took out the number one flag, but they were pushed really hard for it.

In closing, I would like to focus on what I called the match of the day on grand final day and that was the 17 and under game, Ramblers v Imperials.

What a fantastic game of top junior level netball, no undisciplined play at any time, just players determined for the ball.