THIS is the match Ballarat Pride has been sizing up all season.
From the very start of the year, UB Pride has pegged tonight’s clash against Boroondara as a major chance for victory in the Victorian Netball League championship division in Melbourne.
Traditionally a heavyweight, Boroondara has lost star shooter Kathleen Knott to Melbourne Vixens full-time among a number of big departures.
Genesis promoted from within its ranks but has struggled to keep pace this season, chalking up the one win against Geelong.
Pride has also been dealt heavy losses this season and will enter tonight’s match particularly confident of claiming a scalp.
Pride coach Daniel Cooke said his team had to pull together and do something they had failed to achieve all season – a full four quarters’ intensity.
“We need to capitalise on the fact that they (Genesis) are not so experienced anymore,” Cooke said.
“This is one match we recognised at the start as one to get a win.
“We need to go in with our game plan, especially against their young defence, and hopefully we can shut them down at the attacking end and stop them converting.”
Pride wing defence Ingrid Hopkins will return to the line-up after missing most of the past month with a calf strain.
Captain and starting goaler Georgia Cann is ruled out with a foot injury.
Cann will make the trip to help lead from the sidelines and Cooke was confident he had enough versatility in his goaling rotation of Kathryn Hard, Jordyn Bibby and small, speedy attacker Amy Caldow to combat Genesis.
The match is the second of four games in two weeks for Pride.
They return to the court looking to bounce back from a 17-goal loss to North East at home on Saturday night.
Pride stuck with its top-four rival for three quarters but Cooke said “little bits and pieces” started to catch up with his team.
Players undertook individual recovery programs in a bid to be fresh after the short turnaround.
“It really is a chance for us to win. We want a strong result, a strong game out of the players,” Cooke said.
“They really just want to get out there and get that win – the girls all know we’ve been close and now we’re getting turnovers but we’ve just been making simple mistakes.”