Lightning Shooting Duo React To Diamond Selection

Two Sunshine Coast Lightning players have received the nod from new Origin Diamonds Coach Stacey Marinkovich, with the squad of 19 announced today.

Cara Koenen has been elevated to the representative squad for the first time in her career alongside fellow shooter and veteran Diamond Steph Wood who returns to the lineup.

Koenen said squad selection validates all of the long hours and hard work in recent years.

“[Excited is] an understatement – I’m absolutely stoked and very proud and honoured to get the call up,” Koenen said.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, I’m still pinching myself.

“I saw my phone ring and I ran downstairs and answered the phone and burst into tears on the spot.

“After she said we’d like to offer you a spot in the squad, I kind of didn’t hear anything after that I was so excited. I told her that I wouldn’t let her down.”

The 24-year-old has established herself as one of the in form goal shooters in the league in 2020, having shot 431 goals this season so far – 100 more than her cumulative total in seasons 2017 – 2019.  

“I definitely did my time on the bench and learning from CBass [Caitlin Bassett] and Steph – I am so over the moon to be joining them in the squad,” she said.

“I wanted to do my time and learn as much as I could… a lot of hard work went on behind the scenes just grinding away and it’s all paid off now.”

Wood was elated by the news of being named in the Diamonds squad for the next international series, even more so that she got to share in the excitement with Cara.  

“It was a nerve-wracking phone call with a new coach,” Wood said.

“Talking to Cara it was really cool to be a part of her excitement of making her first squad and it brought back memories for the first time I was named in the squad.

“It looks like a good, young group so it will be good to see where the Diamonds go.”

Lightning Head Coach Kylee Byrne said both selections were well deserved and she was incredibly proud of both Koenen and Wood’s personal achievements in 2020.

“I’m so happy for both of them – Steph had some surgery offseason and worked really hard to get back out on court, and I think we’re seeing her best form come out at the end of the season,” Byrne said.

“With Cara it’s such an amazing story, it’s years of hard work, sitting on the bench and just learning, sucking up as much as she can and we’re seeing that all come out now.

“She’s starting to scratch the surface and we are seeing what will be a really long career and I hope it is in the green and gold.

“I still remember a conversation we had and I said you’ll be a Diamond one day, so to be here now with her, and in her life and as her coach and to see it all come through – the day she puts on a dress for the first time is going to be very special.”

The 19-athlete squad saw the omission of Lightning midcourter Laura Scherian who made her Origin Diamonds debut in the 2019 Constellation Cup.

Byrne said she would seek further clarification on why the talented Wing Attack was overlooked.

“We’re really disappointed for Laura, she was in the 12 that was in the constellation Cup,” she said.

“I think it’s a big call to leave her out. I will be having a few chats with Stacey to find out specific feedback as to why she wasn’t selected.”