Firebirds scorch Mystics
IN an instant all the bad times were washed away for Noosa's Keirra Trompf.
Six years ago the Queensland Firebirds could not take a trick and finished the season with two wins. Yesterday they created ANZ Championship history by becoming the first team to go through the competition undefeated. Trompf said memories of her forgettable debut season in 2005 were a distant memory following the team's clinical 57-44 dismantling of the Northern Mystics in the trans-Tasman grand final at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
After years of grafting and toiling, Trompf said it had all been worth it.
“We've had a few tough seasons but that's been erased now,” she said. “I'm just so excited for Queensland and everyone who comes out to support us.
“It took every bit of strength to beat them. The Mystics are a formidable team. We had to work the ball around, but we made it work. It was just fantastic.”
Even 12 months ago Trompf, 25, was struggling to maintain her place in the team but this year she hit her straps and took ownership of the wing defence position.
And while Trompf was replaced in the second half, she did her job as the team went from two goals up at half-time to make their mark in the third quarter.
The Firebirds took control in the “championship” quarter, outscoring the Aucklanders 12-2 at one stage to turn a two-point halftime lead into an unassailable 12-goal advantage at the last change. Queensland's international bookends – star Jamaican shooter Romelda Aiken and Australian Diamonds goal keeper Laura Geitz – were outstanding and the Mystics could not cope with the home team's second-half intensity.
Aiken finished with a game-high 35 goals to win player of the match, while Geitz produced five telling intercepts and three rebounds to quell Mystics shooter Cathrine Latu. The Firebirds' eventual 13-point victory was the biggest grand final margin in the four-year history of the league, to cap their perfect season.
Not content with becoming the first team to sweep through the ANZ Championship undefeated, ruthless captain Geitz stressed the players were desperate to back up next year and succeed where previous champions the NSW Swifts (2008), Melbourne Vixens (2009) and Adelaide Thunderbirds (2010) had failed.
“I think it's easy to do it one time but it's all about coming back and doing it again,” Geitz said. “That's our next challenge. We're just at the beginning. We've just done something no other team has done and we'll celebrate that and rejoice together and give each other a pat on the back.
“But if anything it makes you hungrier for next season and you want to get out there and prove it's not just a one-off.”