Saturday night will be one the Sunshine Coast Lightning squad won’t soon forget as both foundation shooter Cara Koenen and rising midcourter Mahalia Cassidy – two good mates from the junior netball scene – got to celebrate their 50th Suncorp Super Netball matches together.
If that wasn’t sweet enough for the Lightning, the squad produced one of the most unforgettable victories as they beat West Coast Fever 65-61 in Perth.
Koenen, who is quickly becoming a household name after playing for Australia at this year’s Constellation Cup, said she could not believe she was living out her dream for the 50th time.
“I think sometimes we get caught up in the hype of it all, it is an honour to just play one let alone 50,” she told The Netball Post.
“We were disappointed as a group in our round 9 loss against the Vixens, so we were really determined to play our brand of netball…. Coach Kylee Byrne came up with a game plan and the coaches back us to do it on the weekend.
“We were stoked to be able to do it on our 50th against such a formidable side.”
Koenen and Cassidy shared the milestone despite two different career paths so far in Suncorp Super Netball.
Koenen has been at Lightning since day one, making her debut for the club in 2017, however, Cassidy made the trip up the Bruce Highway earlier this year after plying her trade with Queensland Firebirds.
The two spent many seasons together playing underage and representative netball. It was a fitting way for the pair to play out their milestones.
Koenen made her way down from Townsville, a large regional centre for netball, and was able to crack the professional leagues just as Suncorp Super Netball began back in 2017.
She said she was really lucky to have served her apprenticeship under the likes of former coach Dame Noeline Taurua, current coach Byrne and take court with players like former Australian shooter Caitlin Bassett, 200-game keeper Geva Mentor and even New Zealand’s Laura Langman – just to name a few.
“I am proud to come from [Townsville] and getting to the Suncorp Super Netball didn’t come without its own challenges… with less access to quality coaching, training and things like that,” she said.
“I was lucky to have been coming through the pathway when I was, and I was very blessed that Noeline and Kylee took a chance on me with no experience in a professional league.
“I have played with some huge names and that has made me a better athlete and better human. I still feel like a baby and have a lot to learn – I am stunned that I am becoming one of the more experienced players in the group.
“I hope to be a role model for the girls coming through the regional pathways…. And I think if I can have a small part in encouraging regional athletes it would be incredible. It is a responsibility I don’t take lightly.”
When asked how many games she would like to play, Koenen said she is going to play ‘until my body falls apart.
Categories: Suncorp Super Netball