AUSTRALIA’S proud track record as a Maccabiah Games netball powerhouse has been maintained, with 3 golds and a silver earned on finals day on July 24.
In the inaugural masters netball decider – following their four straight qualifying wins – Australia defeated Israel 50-39.
The Aussies led by just 3 points after 2 quarters, but dominated from there, with accurate shooting when it counted most by Natalie Pozniak and Michelle Falk.
The team embraced as the final buzzer sounded, and captain Stephanie Schwartz described the moment as “unbelievable”.
“We’d trained for this for 9 months, we had the stamina in the final to keep going, and our amazing team never gave up.
“We play together as ‘Sisters in Arms’ – that’s our team motto – and that’s been amazing to experience.”
Pozniak added, “We channelled early nerves into positive energy, and played our hearts out”.
Another new addition was the U16 competition, in which Australia won 5 of their group games, and narrowly lost one against Great Britain, who they faced in the final.
The youngest Aussie team jumped out of the blocks to lead by 9 after the first quarter, and maintained that lead at three-quarter time.
Great Britain staged a comeback to trail by 4 with 6 minutes left, but the Aussies held on for a 42-34 win.
Their proud coach, Leeanne Michaelson, said, “There was never any doubt in my mind that we’d win”.
“The girls knew they had to set the pathway in U16s, and they coped really well with that pressure, and had self-belief.”
Australia’s open netball team defended their 2017 title in style, winning all their group games, before outclassing Israel 61-33 in the decider.
Israel trailed by 11 after 2 quarters, but Australia then began marking their shooters relentlessly, and started to score with ease through in-form shooter Timna Katranski and goal attack Arianna Hearst, who both combined well with speedy wing attack Hayley Mrocki.
Captain Kate Lustig said, “sticking to our structures, believing in ourselves, and teamwork, were the most important things”.
Mrocki added, “that was our best performance over them (Israel) in the tournament”.
“It’s incredible to win gold, but also to have 4 Aussie netball teams at the Games for the first time, supporting each other.”
Australia’s U18 team had a solid tournament, with 5 wins and a draw in the group phase, and took home silver after being defeated 38-50 in the final by a vastly improved Great Britain side.
Australia’s U18s coach Jodi Rosenthal said, “Credit to Great Britain, they deserved to win, but our girls fought hard, and have become amazing leaders, which is all a coach could want”.