THE QUICK and agile Gina McCartin slipped seamlessly back into Ballarat Pride’s championship division line up.
McCartin added extra spark and, with a great mismatch in height to the Geelong circle defenders, created headaches in an 18-goal loss.
Her inclusion helped even up play with the Cougars, but the damage had already been well-and-truly inflicted early in Pride’s Victorian Netball League home game on Sunday.
Pride hit the court hard, stamping its intentions on the game, and fought a tight battle and early lead before the Cougars bit back hard to finish the opening term 18-9 up at the Wendouree Netball Centre.
McCartin, a former Pride 19/under captain who is unable to play this season, offered bench support for a depleted Pride outfit.
Fed Uni Pride coach Jo Dash threw McCartin on court in the second half and was pleased with the result under the relentless physical pressure the Cougars were serving up.
“She added a different dimension and fresh energy in her timing, driving and re-offering,” Dash said.
Pride was 16 goals down at half-time but won the final quarter by two goals.
Dash said it was a determined and pleasing finish – but Pride should not have been facing such a frustrating deficit, having failed to capitalise early.
“We’re architects of our own game, really,” Dash said.
“The last thing I said to the girls before we went on court was to start strong and show our intentions, which we did...it’s not a fitness thing, it’s just our ability to sustain the effort to the end of each quarter.”
Goal keeper Emma Farrant showed how much her game had improved this season, even from Pride’s home game at the start of May,
Cass Peace worked relentlessly through centre in the absence of captain Johanna Dash with the experienced Lauren Atkinson handy on the wing.
Again, it was simple and basic errors that riddled Pride’s game.
Pride has two rounds to play this VNL season and remains in the process of bidding for a new VNL licence.