By Romy Stephens
The Casey Demons have finished runners-up in the Victorian Netball League after going down to a relentless Geelong Cougars outfit in the grand final on Wednesday night.
The 69-55 win for the Cougars was a testament to the team’s persistent defensive pressure and composure in attack for the entire night.
The game started off with not much separating the two sides. Despite some errant passes from the Demons, the Cougars struggled to easily penetrate into the goal ring, having to reset the ball back to their defenders numerous times.
A perfectly-timed deflection on a shot at goal from goalkeeper Karli Foster set up a two-goal lead for the Demons at the end of the first quarter.
But it seemed the Cougars were just warming up as they came out in the second quarter a completely new side.
Influenced by the likes of prolific attackers, Vanessa Augustini and Julia Wooley, the Cougars opened up the court in their offensive end and began to hit shooting targets with ease.
Meanwhile, the Demons started to feel the heat in their attacking end with former Diamond Erin Bell being starved of opportunities and goal shooter Emma Ryde unable to aerially dominant as she so often does.
Once the Cougars took the lead in the second quarter, there was no turning back. They began to dismantle their frustrated opponents and blew the lead out to 16 goals during the third quarter.
The Demons tried to peg back quick goals during the final quarter by quickly delivering long bomb passes into Ryde, but it wasn’t enough as the Cougars held onto a 14-goal lead by the end of the game.
Despite the disappointing loss, Casey’s co-captain Karli Foster said she couldn’t be prouder of a side that came so far in its first season.
“To have a great bunch of girls alongside with me, especially in our first year at Casey it’s been really great and it’s been such an awesome ride,” she said.
“There have not been many downtimes, it’s always been really positive and a really great culture.
“I think that’s what’s really helped us to get there.”
The Demons will now look to start their 2020 campaign with trials set to take place on 15 and 22 September.
With the club announcing itself as one of the top teams in the competition this year, Karli said she believes Casey is now a destination club for other players.
“I’ve been approached personally by friends and other people in other teams wanting to come over,” she said.
“We’ve achieved a lot in the first year so obviously, people are going to see that and I think they’re going to want to come.
“It’s a testament to all the people in the background. They’ve really made our first year a really positive one.”
But it’s not just the clubs’ on-court success that will likely attract other players.
In its first year, the VNL side has formed a solid partnership with the Melbourne Football Club and Casey Demons Football Club.
The collaboration was established to help the netball program develop grassroots player pathways and a stronger connection to the local community.
That strong community bond was already evident on Wednesday night with a massive turnout of supporters donning the navy blue and red club colours at the grand final.
The VNL side will also benefit from the recently announced $8 million upgrades at Casey Fields, where netballers will be able to utilise strength and conditioning resources.
For more information on the Casey Demons’ 2020 VNL trials contact firstname.lastname@example.org