“Back her in.”
Those were the three words that encompassed the selflessness that propelled the Sunshine Coast Lightning to their first win of the Suncorp Super Netball season against the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
That was Cara Koenen’s advice to Kylee Byrne in the final time-out, and Lightning coach duly substituted the Australian Diamond for Reilley Batcheldor who sank a high-pressure super shot to help the side to a 52-51 victory in Adelaide.
The win gave Laura Scherian a memorable 100th game milestone and more importantly lifted the Sunshine Coast to seventh on the ladder.
Scherian was awarded player of the match on her big day, Mahalia Cassidy played a blinder and defenders Kate Walsh and Tara Hinchliffe grabbed important intercepts when the game was on the line in the last quarter.
Koenen shot 34 goals at 82 per cent accuracy and her unselfish act in the time-out with three minutes remaining defined the side’s spirit.
“I looked at Cara Koenen and she just turned to me and said ‘back her in’,” Byrne said.
“Cara could read in my face what I was contemplating. That’s that beauty of that relationship.
“And why not. (Batcheldor) did well at Team Girls Cup and stood up at other times.”
The win was one of belief for Lightning who traded the lead with the Thunderbirds throughout the game.
When Captain Steph Wood exchanged super shots with Thunderbird Tippah Dwan inside the last five minutes, the score levelled at 50-50 and up stepped Batcheldor.
The 20-year-old combined perfectly with Wood and never hesitated when her moment came.
She finished with five goals, two of which came from super shot range.
Byrne had to be pleased with the team’s effort to win more ball. They collected 17 gains against the previously undefeated Thunderbirds, including six from Walsh against her former club.
“We just haven’t panicked. There’s absolute belief in this squad,” Byrne said.
“We realised how new everyone was and how combinations would take time. There wasn’t an ounce of panic in the last couple of weeks
“If we kept sticking to our game plan the little wins would come.”
Scherian fought back tears after the nailbiter which pumped confidence into the side ahead of Wednesday night’s away clash with Collingwood and a home game next Saturday against the Melbourne Vixens.
“It’s really what we needed, everyone’s been working so hard,” said Scherian who was player of the match after fighting off cramps to finish with 31 feeds and a miserly three turnovers.
“We got ball today and we used it.”