NORTH Warrnambool Eagles midcourter Sophie Barr is entering unchartered territory when she returns to the line-up for Sunday’s first semi-final showdown with Port Fairy.
Barr, who missed the Eagles’ 11-goal elimination final triumph over Terang Mortlake last Sunday, is preparing for her first A grade final with the club.
After a decorated junior career at Bushfield, Barr has missed the Eagles’ past two finals campaigns while away studying and travelling.
She was unavailable last Sunday, with her Melbourne-based work taking her to Sydney on Friday. She flies back to Melbourne tomorrow and is then planning on packing her belongings and returning home to the south-west for summer.
Barr said she was looking forward to rejoining the Eagles but admitted she entered the cut-throat match in an unusual position — she hasn’t played against Port Fairy or any of the top three sides this season.
Barr, who has been influential at centre, hopes the absence from previous encounters could work in the Eagles’ favour.
She is hoping her side’s late-season good form will continue against the Seagulls. The Eagles, who won just three of their first 10 games, built serious momentum with six wins in their last eight matches entering last week’s elimination final.
“We’ve had Annie Blackburn playing basketball, the Billings girls unavailable during the year with State League, the under 17s have played a game in the morning and sometimes they haven’t played their best and I’ve not been there,” Barr said.
“We are quite formidable when we are all there and playing at our peak. Hopefully we will be able to play to our potential.”
Barr said the on-court chemistry with the younger players was good. She has worked closely with Maddie Drew and Grace Chow, who have both spent time at wing defence with Chow filling in for Barr.
“They have been really awesome and they have been working really well with me in the centre and being able to change it up,” Barr said.
“The young players just want to learn so much. We are really open to suggestions throughout the game and we always play really well as a team.”