Cats ready to pounce

Caitlyn Alifraco. (Damjan Janevski). 241261_03

Oliver Lees

Macedon will be put to the test early in the Riddell Netball Football League season, with matchups against both of last year’s grand finalists in the first two rounds.

Both Riddell and Woodend-Hesket got the better of the Cats last season on the way to the grand final.

The Cats were bested by the Hawks in the qualifying final by one point before losing to Riddell 55-49 in the preliminary final.

The Bombers and the Hawks played out a nail-biting grand final, with the Hawks winning by one point overtime.

New Cats playing coach Katie Clarke said she was intrigued to see how the start of the season would pan out.

“We’ve got a really tough beginning, so we’re gonna see straight away where we sit this year,” she said.

“We know we’ve been able to match them last year, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all goes.”

“One of those games where we’ll get an indication of what our strengths and weaknesses are and what we need to learn.”

Caitlyn Alifraco has been named as captain of the A-grade side having just returned from having her first child.

Clarke said she was amazed at how quickly and efficiently Alifraco had returned to the squad.

“She’s setting extremely unrealistic expectations for lots of women,” she said.

“Caitlin returned from having her first baby and has stepped right back into things, she’s hardly lost any fitness.

“It was a pretty easy choice by the playing group.”

Janelle Birch and Chloe Williams have also been named in the leadership group.

Throughout the pre-season the Cats have been focusing on strength and conditioning in.

Clarke said in netball, much like in boxing, speed and agility are important attributes.

“The footwork is something I see as extremely important,” she said.

“Netball is such a fast paced game especially in A-grade and with so many quality players, you can get left behind quite quickly.

“These things don’t just come naturally, you have to work on it to be able to do it on court.”

Clarke said she hopes this rigorous pre-season training will lead to a faster style of netball that allows them to play more in transition.

“It’s been a really big change for the girls this year, they’ve all come in with fantastic attitudes this year and wanting to be better than they were last year,” she said.

“They’ve made my transition into coaching really easy.”

The Cats will play Riddell in round one on Saturday at Tony Clarke Reserve.