HAMILTON Netball Association’s finals hopes rest on an upset victory against top-of-the-table Hampden Green in tonight’s last round of Western Regional State League matches.
The fourth-placed Hamilton side could climb as high as third with a win tonight or slide as low as fifth if it is defeated.
Coach Nat O’Dea said her team was hitting form at the business end of the competition and was keen to advance to the semi-finals.
“I really hope (tonight) is not our last game,” she said.
“But it’s up to the other games. It’s all up to who wants it the most.”
O’Dea said her side had improved significantly since it was defeated by Green in round two by 11 goals.
“We are absolutely, completely stoked we are looking at even making finals,” she said.
“After we lost the first two games we knew we had to step it up and the girls have come good at the right end of the competition.
“It’s just a matter of getting over the line and carrying on from last week.”
O’Dea, who coached Penshurst to four consecutive Mininera and District league A grade premierships, said she had been talked in to getting a team together for the competition, even though she had stepped aside from a role during winter.
“I thought ‘it’s only seven weeks, you never know what can happen’,” O’Dea said.
She approached 12 players to see if they would commit to the competition and 11 did, so the side was entered.
“We had no structure,” she said of her side’s beginning six weeks ago.
“I didn’t know what to expect. The girls were basing it on two or three years ago when three of them had played in it.
“There were only four girls who had played together for more than a season and some didn’t know each other until the first game.”
After two losses, the side claimed a one-goal win over Warrnambool City in round three but was forced to forfeit in round four against Hampden White because of injury, illness and unavailability. The round three win was a turning point in the campaign, she said, having thrown players into different positions.
She said the squad’s philosophy was to have fun.
“They’re enjoying their netball and it is reflected in the results,” she said.
Hamilton had a two-goal loss to Colac in round five before winning last week against the Warrnambool and District league side.
Goal shooter Kelsey Lewis has been impressive alongside defender Jess McCallum, who has found herself at goal attack in recent weeks in a move that has paid considerable dividends.
Tonight’s opponent Hampden Green is assured of a semi-final berth but a loss could see it slip to second and a tougher semi-final match-up against third-placed Warrnambool City.
City, which faces second-placed Hampden White, can’t leapfrog its opponent but could slip to fourth if Hamilton wins.
The battle between fifth-placed Colac and District and sixth-placed Warrnambool and District has a lot riding on it. Colac and District needs to win to make the four.
The action starts at 7.15pm.