Roma sports club may warrant loads of attention as the reigning champions of local netball, but their rivals are not to be ignored.
All Stars and Roma write the next chapter in their rivalry this Saturday 14 May. Both face off in the finals for the 2011 open league put on by the Cayman Islands Netball Association. The B teams battle at 6.15pm for the consolation cup while the A teams hit the court at 7.15pm for the national championship.
Roma A come in as the reigning champions after grabbing their first trophy in 2010. All Stars meanwhile are three years removed from their fifth title back in 2008. For All Stars Wing Attack Adena Miller the history between the two clubs is a big part of the rivalry.
“It is a rivalry because for the last two years the championship has been between us, them and Storm,” Miller said. “It’s still a toss-up (who is better). Our team has been playing together for over a decade and we have five championships, the last of which came three years ago. We’re going in with a positive mind-set of winning.
“The ball is round and who knows on Saturday what will happen. We have to be sharp. Our offence is working and the shooting is on par. Our shooters Pauline Bodden and Stacy Reid-Satahoo are on at all times for Roma games. We have to have a consistent centre court. Their players are much younger than us. The core of our team is over 40 and we only have a few young girls. They have the stamina while we have the ball skills and experience.”
On paper Roma seems to have the edge. In the regular season the sides faced off twice, with the green and yellow warriors winning both times. Even though All Stars had the best offence (scoring a league-best 371 points), Roma had the best defence (allowing a league-low 138 points). In spite of the numbers Pauline Bodden likes All Stars’ chances for success.
“We have to give it our best shot,” Bodden said. “If our players do their best we can win. We’re also expecting to have two good players, Carolyn Vivian and Cynthia Collington, back for us. We are all ready and geared up for Saturday. We’re anxious to play Roma. Kay Copeland may be their main player and be a really accurate shooter. But we have two good shooters and our defence is pretty good. Centre court may be our weakest link but otherwise we’re ready.”
In the B team final, Roma are newcomers to the competition and in their inaugural season exceeded expectations with a fifth seed. All Stars meanwhile struggled in the regular season in spite of claiming the division two championship last year. Both Miller (who helped coached the team alongside Lyneth Monteith and Wanda Faud) and Bodden see a tight tussle between two evenly-matched squads.
“The whole team will have to bring their game and push ahead on Saturday,” Miller said. “The B team is the same as last year. Tishelle (Logan) is new this year and she has elevated her game. Roma have a lot to reckon with. Renee Lindo and Whitney General are forces on defence and the Roma shooters have to come good to beat them.
“To me their biggest concerns are Anissa Owen on the wing and shooters Kristie Hurlston and Jahzenia Thomas. They are more athletic than the rest and have the stamina to consistently read and make plays.”
“The B team have good strengths though the defence, which is pretty good, loses its priorities at times,” Bodden said. “The centre court is strong and they all have to be sharp because they will be under pressure. They have to stay focused. They have to watch out for Roma defender Saneata Smith. She has the most height and can give the most problems by towering over shooters and making shots go off target.
“It’s a possibility both of our teams can win. Mistakes can send anyone’s game downhill fast. In any case there are two pretty good games on Saturday where anything can happen.”