By Alyce Collett
The Division One Grand Final is upon us as Mount Evelyn and Monbulk do battle to take home the ultimate prize at Woori Yallock on Sunday.
The first meeting between the two sides this year was back in round two.
Monbulk held a four goal lead at quarter time before a 12 goal to eight quarter in favour of Mount Evelyn saw the scores level at half time. Mount Evelyn took the lead in the third term and still held it at the final whistle.
For Mount Evelyn that afternoon, star shooter Ellie Karaula was the leading goaler with 19 goals, followed by Georgia Marsh with the remaining 16. Among Mount Evelyn’s best players that afternoon were coach Kaitlyn Black, Ellie Karaula and Stephanie Jones.
Meanwhile for Monbulk, Jamie Sands and Stephanie Puopolo each shot 12 goals that afternoon, while Sophie Stubbs chipped in with three goals. Among the best players for the Hawks that afternoon were Kaitlyn Seamer, the ever consistent Tiana Mancarella and Katrina Wragg.
The second meeting was in round nine, and it was Mount Evelyn who were victorious once again.
Monbulk held a slender one goal lead at quarter time, before Mountt Evelyn took the lead in the second and held a two goal and one goal lead at the next two breaks respectively as the game kept its tight nature. Things opened up in the final quarter and in the end, it was an eight goal win to Mount Evelyn.
Ellie Karaula once again led the goal shooting tally for Mt Evelyn, shooting 19 goals. Georgia Marsh also remained consistent from their last battle and shot the remaining 17 goals. Stephanie Puopolo was the main shooter for Monbulk that day, as she has been all season, shooting 25 goals, with Sophie Stubbs chipping in with three.
Jacqui Black, Georgia Marsh, and Stephanie Jones were among the best players for Mount Evelyn in the win, while Puopolo, alongside Tiana Mancarella and Jordan Ngarimu were the best players for the Hawks.
The third meeting between the two sides this year was in round 15. After Mount Evelyn held the lead by the slimmest of margins, it was Monbulk who held the lead by the same margin at half time. Scores were even at the final change before Mount Evelyn snuck ahead and took the win by only three goals.
Ellie Karaula was once again the leading shooter on the court that day, shooting 24 goals. Monbulk’s leading shooter Stephanie Puopolo only shot 19 goals, an unusual low for the Division’s leading goal shooter.
Mount Evelyn’s best that day were sisters Jacqui Black and Kaitlyn Black as well as Ellie Karaula. Monbulk’s best players that day were Nicole Macdowell, who has recently partnered Puopolo, Paige Whitworth and Tiana Mancarella.
The final time these two sides met was the Qualifying Final only a few weeks ago. That afternoon Mount Evelyn lead at every change and took a five goal win.
For Mount Evelyn, Ellie Karaula shot 19 goals while Georgia Marsh shot 16. Most of Monbulk’s goals once came from Stephanie Puopolo, while Nicole Macdowell chipped in with the remainder.
Mount Evelyn’s best players that afternoon were once again Kaitlyn Black, Stephanie Jones and Jacqui Black, while for Monbulk it was Tiana Mancarella, Kaitlyn Seamer and Paige Whitworth.
Mount Evelyn coach Kaitlyn Black described the Rovers season as successful and one of the most enjoyable due to the culture and vibe.
“Making the Grand Final is a massive turnaround from where we were last year, not actually making finals, so I think the consistency from the players and the process of actually sticking to the game plan, I think that’s what you sort of define as success, it’s definitely been there.”
She believes the turn around in fortune they have had this season is due to the consistency of having the same players week in week out, which is a luxury she believes they have not enjoyed in A Grade in the past.
She believes that doing the basics right will be the key to getting the win on the weekend, and noted how “finals are a crazy game” and although Mount Evelyn would be seen as the favourites, finals are a whole new ball game.
She also listed versatility and discipline as her team’s biggest strength.
“We’ve only got eight players that have played the finals series but within those eight players we’ve got a lot of movement that we can call on, everyone’s got two positions they can dominate in, which is quite rare as you get higher in netball.”
Meanwhile, Monbulk coach Christina Puopolo believes the key to finally beating Mount Evelyn on the weekend will be getting a good start.
“I think we’ve learnt a lot from playing them…. I think the girls are ready to play them and they’ve got a solid game plan,”
“We plan on getting a good start because last time we played them we had a really bad first quarter and then beat them in the next three.”
She believes her team’s biggest strengths is the cohesion.
“Obviously we’ve got a big target in Steph [Puopolo] but it really is important that everyone else around her steps up to get the performance that we want, so probably the strength is that the girls have developed and we are a team.”
Matt Fotia – AFL Outer East Media Manager
Mount Evelyn by 3 goals
The Rovers have shown on countless occasions this season that their defence is the best around. When Kaitlyn Black plays in defence, the Black duo are nigh on impenetrable.
Best on Court – Jacqui Black (Mount Evelyn)
MR X – Mysterious Figure
Monbulk by 1 goal in extra time.
This will be a game for the ages, with Puopolo and K.Black going toe-to-toe all afternoon, sending it to over time. From there the Hawks will pinch it, but I don’t really know why.
Best on Court – Nicole MacDowell (Monbulk)