Worcester Severn Stars Head Coach Mo’onia Gerrard claimed her expectations were “top four” ahead of this season in the Vitality Netball Superleague.
The Australian international became the head coach at the start of 2016 having previously won two world cups and the Liz Ellis Diamond award.
Gerrard said, “My expectations were top four, but I guess that’s my high expectations as to where I saw the team.”
“All the girls do feel we should be performing better than what we have been. I guess that’s the level of netball where I want them to have that expectation on themselves and on the team.”
This season has raised some questions for Gerrard. The Severn Stars are eighth in the league with a 4-10 record. They remain three points behind the Hertfordshire Mavericks and three points ahead of Team Northumbria.
The girls had high hopes entering the season with talents such as Iona Darroch and leading goal scorer Eleanor Cardwell commanding the court.
Photo: Tom Bennett/ Razorlight Imagery
With injury interruptions, England International call-ups and lack of chemistry, this year has been difficult for the Stars and Gerrard. The Head Coach does acknowledge that there will be room for improvement with proper planning.
Gerrard explained, “It’s just having that plan A, B, C all the way up to Z. At the moment, being the first season, I guess it’s somewhere to start, knowing we can be better next year.”
Despite the disappointing year there are positives to be withdrawn. The Severn Stars are a young group in comparison to others in the league. Most of the players have a lot of room to grow, both as a player and as a person, which can be a positive for the team going forward.
At the start of the season only three girls have played with each other. Seeing new faces enter the team can be difficult to adjust to.
Centre/Wing Attack Sophie Carter admitted she had to research some of the new players in order to learn more about them.
She said, “There were some of the girls I have never heard of before. I went on YouTube and searched how their style was.”
“I think we all had to train a lot together and just recognize what our strengths are as individuals and then put them together as a team.”
Photo: Tom Bennett/ Razorlight Imagery
Carter explained that throughout the season, one of the main struggles has been consistency. The Stars have struggled to maintain a balanced amount of points each quarter, which is something that is being addressed amongst the team.
In particular, it seems that the third quarter is when the team struggles.
Another teammate and Vice-Captain Josie Janz Dawson, also touches upon some strengths that she has been seeing on the court these past few weeks in their game.
Dawson claims, “Probably in the last few games we’ve surprised ourselves in how we can play well. We can move the ball quite quickly.”
The character of this team has been illustrated through some great games and some poor games. The Severn Stars continue to challenge teams and at this present moment, Dawson touches on some areas in which the team still must discover.
She said, “Each week we’re still trying to work out what our preparation is. How we actually go with our lineups. How we build on our own strengths, and building up on our leadership as well. Being able to call different calls on court, whether we can see a flow in when we’re dipping or whether we’re full steam ahead. Good teams will actually know when to press on, and I think we’re still trying to find our feet, in what the Severn Stars will look like in our style of play.”
As a team, they have recently come together to discuss how they want to approach the last five games of the season. There is a sense of urgency amongst these players to finish the season strong.
The Severn Stars lost to the Scottish Sirens last night 59-45. In their previous matchup, the Severn Stars won the match 54-45. In the third quarter of that match, they posted 16 points on the scoreboard. A much better result than what they have been achieving lately.
Their last match at home against the Manchester Thunder did not end well. They were out played in all areas losing the match 63-42.
On average the Severn Stars produce 46.5 points a game. In every loss, thus far in the season, they have produced around the 40-point margin.
In their four victories they have achieved, the Stars have averaged 58 points. They have shown flashes of their talent against the Celtic Dragons, Surrey Storm and the Scottish Sirens.
Eleanor Cardwell has scored 58.5% of the team’s points this season. Her success might suggest that the one of the most clinical aspects of the team is her ability to put the ball in the hoop.
Coach Mo’onia Gerrard intends to keep the core group of players together for the coming years. The talent that she controls out on the court has the potential to reach her expectations.
The Worcester Severn Stars remain a hopeful club. The intentions are pure, and that is, to bring home the Netball Championship. The task at hand seems near impossible considering the season, yet the future may hold a different vision.