PIE TIME: Merbein coach Chloe Lewis and young gun Chloe Hoyle are prepared for the club’s first ever SFNL A Grade netball grand final against South Mildura tomorrow. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
MERBEIN’S A Grade netball side already have one slice of history, but they have their eyes on taking the entire cake.
The Magpies are into the premiership play-off in the top tier of the Sunraysia Football and Netball League (SFNL) for the first time ever.
Coach Chloe Lewis, however, believes the job is only half finished, and her side is ready for South Mildura tomorrow.
In one of the games of the season, the Pies won a tight preliminary final 38 to 37 over Ouyen United last week, with the Kangas also searching for their first-ever A Grade grand final berth.
“The whole club has really thrown their support behind us. There are a lot of supporters we didn’t realise we had,” Chloe said.
“Last year was a history-making year for us getting to the semi-finals. It was the first time the A Grade side had been a part of finals.
“I think the hurt from last year has driven us further. Everyone was upset that we weren’t able to go further than we did and we weren’t willing to feel the same way this year.
“In our first meeting with South we got beaten by a fair bit and the next time we only lost by a goal, so we managed to improve within that time.
“I think we changed our attitudes and we’re mentally tougher than we were. In the past we had a tendency to drop our heads if things weren’t going well but now we’re able to put our heads down and work our way back into the game.
“That mental toughness is something we’ve been trying to build throughout the whole club.”
As Goal Defender, Chloe, the joint 2018 Jackie Horkings Medal winner alongside her former Bambill teammate in Wentworth’s Christie Becker, and Goal Keeper Johanna Grey have their work cut out for them against young gun Demi Toms, who averages 30.7 goals per game, and Kendall McLean.
Johanna and sister Emily are set to play alongside each other, a moment Chloe said they were “very proud of.”
In her second season at the club, Rebecca Harvey has again been brilliant for the Pies, and is second on the overall goals tally with 577 at 32.1 per game.
Harvey and Goal Attack Jordan Madigan (366 goals) have formed one of the more dynamic attacking duos in the competition.
“There has only really been a slight change to our line-up since I came across three years ago,” Chloe said.
“The first year was a lot about getting to know each other as teammates, and last year those connections we made put us further ahead.
“We were probably lacking in a few areas, such as that mental toughness, which I think we’re better at this year.”
Merbein will face South Mildura in the A Grade netball grand final from 2pm.