While the European Crusaders’ 2017 International Cup was not as victorious as they would have liked, their spirit, determination and improvement as the tournament went on was an incredible achievement.
The group of women representing Europe had only met each other a few days before the tournament started and this was evident in the early rounds. Consecutive losses to Papua New Guinea, the Irish Banshees, USA, and Fiji could have been demoralising. But the Europeans had tremendous fight and kept fronting up for each game with only more grit and enthusiasm.
The Crusaders did not hit the scoreboard in their losses to PNG, Ireland, and the USA. But in these games where they couldn’t get the ball forward, their defence stood up impressively. Crusaders’ full-back Coline Duquet starred in this period and throughout the entire tournament, intercept marking and proving to be a clean rebounder of the ball. Her fantastic form was rewarded with a spot in the IC17 World Team, selected as a full-back.
In the last two rounds of the International Cup, the Crusaders were more offensive and were able to hit the scoreboard in both matches. In the loss to Fiji in round four, the Europeans achieved their first score of the tournament in the form of a rushed behind off the boot of forward Bérengère Portal.
But in the last match of the Cup, the Crusaders were able to notch up a much-awaited first win and first goal of the tournament. Once again, B. Portal was able to hit the scoreboard, drilling through the Crusaders first goal, alongside another three for the match in a best-on-ground performance.
Crusaders’ coach Graham Andrews said IC17 has been a “great experience” for the Crusaders, especially considering they had such little time to train as a team before the competition started.
“We had to try and gel pretty quickly,” he said. “I thought we did quite well on the defensive side throughout the first part of the tournament against some pretty hard teams, including Ireland who won the Grand Final.”
“But I think we got better as the tournament went on, which is the main thing with football,” he said. “And the spirit of the team has been tremendous regardless of the results.”
Round 1 – European Crusaders 0.0. (0) defeated by Papua New Guinea 6.19. (55) at Royal Park
Round 2 – European Crusaders 0.0. (0) defeated by Irish Banshees 8. 13. (61) at St Patrick’s College
Round 3 – European Crusaders 0.0. (0) defeated by USA 19.13. (127) at Melbourne University
Round 4 – European Crusaders 0.1. (1) defeated by Fiji 12.16. (88) at Royal Park
Round 5 – European Crusaders 8.16. (64) defeated Pakistan 1.0. (6) at Royal Park
Berengere Portal lead the Crusader’s goalkicking efforts with 4 goals, followed by Mathilde Combes, Naima Ait El Mouden, Marine Assemat, and Ana Barisic with one goal each.
Best on Ground for IC17:
Coline Duquet, Ana Barisic, Camille Portal, Sandra Janjetovic, Lin Gardell, and Amanda King.
World Team Selection:
Coline Duquet (Full Back)
(First Published on AFL Europe on August 31st 2017)