Northern Lights Results

northernlights

This International Cup saw 7 women’s teams in the competition. Due to a couple of countries pulling out at the last minute (New Zealand and Papua New Guinea), both the American and Canadian sides were allowed to enter development teams (USA Liberty and Canada Midnight Suns) in order provide a larger competition for the Cup. While the USA Liberty have had their development side assembled for quite some time, the Midnight Suns were assembled in 48 hours in late June! This definitely shows the depth and strength of women’s footy in Canada (especially since they play the USA Freedom for 3rd place on Friday)!

Going in to the tournament, I was feeling good but didn’t know what role I’d play on the international stage. I usually play midfield or wing at my local club level, but since the Northern Lights are stacked with around 15 girls who usually play the same position, I knew that I would most likely be shuffled around somewhere else. On the evening before our first game, I found out that I would be starting forward pocket (typically a smaller, faster forward that picks up any balls on the ground that the taller forwards don’t mark/catch)! I was happy to have a starting position where my skills would be put to good use. I was also surprised to see that I had been named a “Player to Watch” in our team’s preview.

Initial Preview of the Northern Lights and Midnight Suns:
http://www.worldfootynews.com/article.php/20140801110432288

Round 1 vs. USA Freedom
We knew our first game against the USA “A” team would be our BIG game. We beat them 86-1 in the 2013 Parallel Cup, but weren’t going to take them lightly. Who knows what they had done to prepare for this tournament?

If we won, we felt like we could win against all the other teams and make the Grand Final. If not, our fate would be in someone else’s hands and we’d be hoping all tournament for a big upset.

It looked like it was going to be a close game for the first five minutes, then the Lights brushed off the nerves, and starting playing the kind of footy we knew we could play. I ended up scoring the first goal of the tournament for the Lights! In the end we won 61-7, with goals being shared across the team, showing we are a very balanced squad. I was named one of the best on ground in the game, and my team mates awarded the “TSN Turning Point” award to me (a Canadian neck tie that I had to wear for 2 days) for scoring the first goal.

YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/YzLQWgQh05s
Jen’s Goals (1): 8:20
World Footy News Match Report:
http://www.worldfootynews.com/article.php/2014080923230162

jenfreedom

Round 2 vs. USA Liberty (Development Team)
Our next test was the development side for the USA. We had high hopes going into this game and hoped to practice some of our structures. The development side actually seemed to have more structure in their back line than their senior side, but our skills, strength and fitness were too strong for them.

Again, I got the call to start as forward pocket. I played the first half of the game and scored 2 goals! Let me tell you, nothing feels better than scoring against the Americans! The Lights defeated the Liberty 125-0!

YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/QDBihOWQSLg
Jen’s Goals (2): 16:30 and 34:00
World Footy News Match Report:
http://www.worldfootynews.com/article.php/20140813202536762
Another Take on Our Match:
http://www.worldfootynews.com/article.php/20140812215518960

jenliberty

Round 3 vs. Fiji
Our next game was against Fiji and played at Mulgrave Reserve as it was the Community Round. The game was hosted by the Eastern Devils, my team mate Kendra’s current team, and my captain Aimee’s old team!

We didn’t know much about Fiji going into the game, but expected the island team to be fast and hard-hitting, with a rugby-style of play. We were not disappointed! Fiji was a tough opponent and put their bodies on the line at all costs. I think they will be the team to watch in 3 years after they brush up on some of their skills and knowledge of the game.

Again, I was selected to start in forward pocket (apparently I have found my calling). We strayed a little from our typical structure for the first half of the game and then settled back into things in the second half. I was thrown back into the game for the last 5 minutes and was able to score another 2 goals! We beat Fiji 67-2 and but more importantly, had survived the game relatively injury-free!

YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/BSAuJkM2sKw
Jen’s Goals (2): 1:17:20 and 1:22:50
World Footy News Match Report:
http://www.worldfootynews.com/article.php/20140817071152416

jenfiji

Round 5 vs. Tonga
At this point, we knew that even if we would have lost against Tonga, we still would make it to the Grand Final due to our high percentage from our success in our other games (around 1800!!!). We were expecting another hard-hitting game as the Fijians had warned us “Oh Tonga… They hit hard!” Yikes! (Note: We had a bye in Round 4).

I started forward pocket again, and was ready to score a few goals. Unfortunately within about a minute into the game, a collision occurred between two big Tongans and me, which resulted in a corkie (i.e. charlie horse). Even with this, I ended up “soccering” two goals and tackling some girl that had a clear 30kg (70 lbs) on me in the first quarter, and was told to rest for the remainder of the game. I was disappointed, but knew we had bigger Irish fish to fry on Saturday.

The Northern Lights were victorious and won 144-12, the highest scoring women’s game in the tournament history! At the end of the match, the Tongans were so nice and we sang some songs with them. After playing both island teams, we have grown to realize that we should also include singing lessons as part of our pre-season training.

YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/yxX9MFbTuIM
Jen’s Goals (2): 4:20 and 18:40
World Footy News Match Report:
http://www.worldfootynews.com/article.php/20140820142000530
Singing with the Tongans:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=742236655843082

jentonga

Next Up: Grand Final vs. Ireland at Punt Road Oval
Well, this is the game the Lights have been waiting for 3 years now. Last International Cup, Ireland got the best of the Canadian side. However, this year we have an amazing group of talented, skilled, fit and strong women, who are ready to take on the Irish. Whatever the results are, I know that our team couldn’t have worked harder or sacrificed more. I am so proud of all the girls and can’t wait to take the field with them on Saturday at the historic Punt Road Oval.

I have been selected to start forward pocket again, and hope I can score a couple more goals to help the team to victory!

LIVE STREAMING:
Melbourne Time – Saturday, August 23 @ 2:10pm
Toronto Time – Saturday, August 23 @ 12:10am
Edmonton Time – Friday, August 22 @ 10:10pm
http://m.afl.com.au/global/aflic14/streaming

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