Macedon – the Riddell District Netball League’s surprise packet last season – has every intention of keeping that momentum going.
The Cats were unknowns last season, but made it through to the final game of the year, losing to Riddell by four goals.
The Cats have kept the majority of last season’s squad together and are primed for another tilt at the premiership.
They have added former Rupertswood defender Katie Clarke, who was named in the RDNL team of the year last season, and young gun Tayla Hardiman. Holly Burnip is the only departure.
Macedon playing coach Ciara Stewart said the side would be just as strong as last year.
“Katie and I are great friends – she wanted a change and we were happy to have her,” she said. “It just suited her, and at that stage we didn’t know we had lost Holly.
“We’ve got a lot of experience with Katie and Janelle [Birch] in defence, and I think they’ll click quickly.”
Stewart said Hardiman was meant to play for Macedon last year, but was prevented from doing so by Victorian Netball League commitments.
“She’s not playing that this year,” Stewart said. “Tayla is a goaler-wing attack. We have a lot of different options.”
The biggest challenge for the Cats this season will be how to handle the Victorian Netball League duties of some players. Last season, the Cats had no VNL players; this season they have three, with Chloe Wilson, Janelle Birch and Chelsea Kemp all having been selected for teams.
Stewart said that while she was thrilled for the three girls, it did make training more difficult.
“The biggest challenge will be training together every week which was our strength last season,” she said.
“The girls are getting good coaching elsewhere, but it’s not the same as training together.
“Everyone but Tara [Burnip] and Katie play together on a Tuesday night, so we hope that’s enough.”
Stewart said there had been a few changes in the Mecdon’s other three sides. Long-term injuries will mean a very different looking B-grade side, while Stewart said they were looking for the C-grade side to be competitive.
Stewart said the club was looking at bringing more junior players through to the under-19 side, which made the grand final last year.
She said the target for the senior team was at least finishing in the top four and that the players were hungry for success after getting so close last year.
“People know who we are now,” she said. “We’ve got a real mix of old and young, and new and old players.”
The Cats will start their season by playing Woodend-Hesket on April 8.