A PACKED STADIUM AND UPSET WIN ADD TO AN UNLIKELY MAIDEN VOYAGE
Nine months ago there was no Maiden Voyage, perhaps it could have been best described as a stranded vessel in stormy waters with only a handful of Maidens and a lackluster captain. Fast forward to Saturday, 14 December and the Victoria Maidens now draw front page headlines in Victoria’s main newspaper Herald Sun with rave reviews such as ‘It’s Gritty. Its Entertaining. Its Far Better Than Watching Netball’, a near capacity crowd at AAMI Park and the upset of the young LFL Australia season with a 32-26 win over Western Australia.
The Saturday night experience played out like a Hollywood script involving an LFL club that no one expected much from this season and contributions from some of the most unheralded athletes of LFL Australia. This Victoria club lacked the big-name stars such as Leah Turnbull or Jacinda Barclay or Jayne Caldwell not to mention the All-Star US imports like Chloe Butler, Mo Gaxiola, Adrian Purnell or Tamar Fennell. This club won with obscure names like Greenwood, Harris, Clingin, Davey, Parker, Clifford, Armen, Cula-Reid and Tate. It was apparent as early as the pre-game emotional speech from head coach Brett Chambers that this night was Victoria’s destiny simply playing out.
Despite little to no recognition nor star-power, this team reminded a lot of LFL Global fans of the 2012 BC Angels of LFL Canada who won it all despite being the only club without a US import and a team versus individual stars.
On this summer night, the journey of this historic season would begin against one of the most beautiful stadium backdrops in all of Australia inside the famed AAMI Park lit up in purple in honor of the Maidens and renamed ‘Maidens Ghost Ship’. Victoria came into the game a heavy under-dog against a No.2 ranked Western Australia who most already penciled into the Legends Cup or Grand Final versus New South Wales. Victoria was not impressed, opening the 1st half with a solid game plan that played to their strengths of a power-run game with eventual Game MVP Julez Parker, steady short passing game headed by Penelope Cula-Reid and perhaps ones of the defensive performances of the young season by defensive team captain Tahli Greenwood.
Victoria engineered two 1st half scoring drives one of which was capped by a 5yd pass from Cula-Reid to Thalia Armen followed by a Julez Parker 1yd run to give Victoria an unexpected 14-12 lead over powerhouse Western Australia. The Angels did respond to both Maiden scores with a pair of 1st half touchdowns by Tammie West, the final one coming with only :34 seconds remaining in the 1st half.
Heading into halftime up by 2pts vs Western Australia, for the first-time, there was a level of confidence and hope amongst not only the Maidens roster but now the packed AAMI Park crowd that came dressed in purple Pirate uniforms.
As the 2nd half started, it was clear that Victoria sensed blood in the water and released a vicious pass rush often blitzing the young WA Quarterback Turnbull, who was battered and thrown to the ground after almost every pass. Despite the constant defensive pressure Turnbull stood tall in the pocket orchestrating a monster 10 play 35 yard drive that ended with a 5yd touchdown pass from Turnbull to 18yr. old Britney Were to give Western Australia its first-ever lead of the game. However, this was to be the final meaningful score of the game for WA as Victoria scored 18 unanswered points en route to a 32-20 lead with only 1:06 left in the game.
The scoring surge was capped by early Defensive Player of the Year candidate Tahli Greenwood’s 2nd sack and forced fumble of the night which was recovered in mid-air by Lauren Harris and taken to the house on a 36yd touchdown run that broke the game open after WA had managed to drive deep into Victoria’s territory. That was the play that made you feel as if this Maiden club may be a team of destiny.
WA did manage to drive the length of field in :51 seconds to come within 6pts. with a Turnbull to Tegan Brown 14yd touchdown dart, but the following onside kickoff was illegally touched by WA turning it over to Victoria.
Victoria now prepares for another early season test, this time against the No.1 ranked New South Wales Surge in Penrith on 28 December.
For WA, there is very little time to lick their wounds as they open nib Stadium against the No.1 ranked New South Wales Surge in a match-up that leading up to the VIC vs WA game, most felt was a preview of Legends Cup. Now WA’s hopes and any level of respect rests with the result of this week’s game vs NSW.
|passing yds (net)||124||41|
|TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS||44-172||26-100|