City West Falcons are the hottest team going around in western suburbs sport.
Winning has become an addiction for the Falcons, with their record reading 13-0 in the Victorian Netball League championship division.
The top-of-the-ladder Falcons won a heart-stopper 51-49 win over Southern Saints at the State Netball and Hockey Centre on Wednesday night.
No matter what team Falcons coach Marg Lind sends out – this one was full of youth due to the unavailablilty of three stars through representative duty – they are getting the job done.
Lind was pleased to come away with a victory from a game that could have gone either way.
“We had a very small window where we got a few goals up in the last quarter,” she said.
“Other than that, it was pretty much goal-for-goal the whole game.
“We were happy to get the win because we didn’t have Molly [Jovic], Jini [Tharjini Sivalingam] or Jane [Cook].
“We pretty much had our younger players on the court and I thought they did well to hold up under consistent pressure from Saints. They’re in pretty good form at the moment.”
The main area of concern for City West heading into the game was the attacking circle.
Cook and Sivalingam have been prolific goal scorers for the Falcons this season.
Enter Uneeq Palavi, a young goaler who shone brightly in her first start.
After shrugging off some initial nerves, Palavi finished with 49 at 88 per cent conversion.
“That’s her first full game run for us in champ, so that was a really good sign,” Lind said.
“She probably tried to do too much early in the game … in the second half she settled into the role well and started to really perform.”
When the game was there to be won, it was at the other end of the court that City West gained its advantage, with a five-minute period in the fourth quarter turning the game in the Falcons’ favour.
The game changer for the Falcons was goal keeper Sarah Szczykulski, who was able to break up play with solid defence and be a motivator with her voice.
“She had a five-minute patch where she got a bit more aggressive and was up and about talking to the others and being really positive,” Lind said.
City West had to call on teenager Mel Oloamanu to play an important role at goal defence. Oloamanu replaced Zoe Davies, who received a knock to her nose.
“She did really well for her first run in championship,” said Lind of Oloamanu. “She’s a good up-and-comer.”
City West has opened a two-and-a-half game lead over the rest of the competition.
Lind believes victories such as the one over Southern Saints are worth more than just premiership points.
“Games like that are a real test of our culture,” she said. “It’s a really good window into what we’ve got to look forward to, but it’s also a window into what our vulnerabilities are.
“The big positive for the club is we know the young ones have got the capacity now.”
City West Falcons undefeated record will be put to the test when it faces a desperate finals-hunting Melbourne University Lightning at SNHC on June 26.