In Maddy Proud’s 100th national league game, the NSW Swifts have held off a fighting Fever outfit for a one goal victory at John Cain Arena on Sunday afternoon.
After a challenging build up for both teams, which required multiple relocations, the netball from these top-four teams was impressive.
Speaking after the match, Swifts’ coach Briony Akle was proud of her team’s ability to adapt and produce a win.
“It was great (the win). It was excitement, a bit of relief.
“The week we’ve had, coming together, and making this worth it. Either way, we were coming here to keep this competition alive and our girls certainly have done a great job, just being focussed and excited that they can actually play.
“With our build up, I think it’s actually helped in the end. We were determined to make the quarantine worth it and the win certainly makes it worth it,” Akle said.
Played under strict quarantine conditions in an empty arena in Melbourne, the match had its momentum swings.
It was the Fever in the first, then the Swifts in the second quarter.
The third term was a fairly tight contest, but the Swifts nudged ahead thanks to Helen Housby’s casual supershots.
Coming home hard, the Swifts held off the Fever, passing the ball around for more than a minute to end the game.
“It was just a positive that we got to get out there today and I think it was a great team effort,” Akle said.
The turning point was Akle’s decision to bring Sophie Garbin into goal shooter in the second quarter.
“Garbin is amazing in the air, I think it changed the game.
“She held her own and putting that ball up in the air, they couldn’t stop her,” Akle said.
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Proud, after her 100th game, said this is now the benchmark for the rest of the Swifts season.
“You couldn’t have written it more perfectly, especially against such a quality side like Fever.
“We’re the only team to have beaten them this season. It shows that on any given day we can bring it to the best,” Proud said.
Proud started out at the Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2011 before making the move to the Swifts in 2017. The move, she said, gave her a new lease on her netball life.
“It’s a nice story that my first game was against the Fever in 2011, and my 100th in 2021 against them.
“I was a 17 year old and now a 27 year old – it shows how I’ve grown up in this game,” Proud said.
Akle spoke glowingly of her midcourter after the victory.
“Maddy is an outstanding human, let alone a netballer. She definitely brings a lot of energy, a lot of talk and a lot of noise, which is fun.
“We celebrated her this morning before the game, which was great. I think she did a great job. Any player that reaches 100 in this league, you take your hat off to them,” Akle said.
Proud’s highlight in her 100 games is the team’s premiership in 2019, even though she watched on from the sidelines.
“Even though I wasn’t on the court, that year in general was one of the best and also one of the hardest with doing my knee.
“I just learned so much, particularly in the first half as a player, and then after, being to take it all the way with the Swifts,” Proud said.
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