After a debut season to forget, the only way was up for the Adelaide Dragons in the 2019 Australian Ultimate League season.
The Dragons finished last, and failed to record a single win, in the debut season of AUL in 2018, which gave the club some tasty draft picks but plenty of work to do.
After being whacked by Sydney in the opening round (a fate that befell every team that played the Suns this season), Adelaide then found more solid footing against the Canberra Freeze to win the third set after losing the first and second sets.
The lessons learned were handy for the Dragons who would go on to not only claim their first AUL win, but take the prized scalp of defending champions Melbourne Flames.
Adelaide also claimed another huge result in round five, defeating a Perth Power outfit that was playing for a spot in the final.
It lifted the Dragons off the bottom of the table and gives the team plenty to work with ahead of season 2020.
What went right and what went wrong for the Dragons
A slow start ultimately cost Adelaide a chance to compete for a spot in the grand final, but there were plenty of positives to come out of the season.
The recruitment of veteran Di Worman as the No.1 draft pick was an inspired selection and she finished with seven assists and seven goals, constantly providing the link and the finish as the game situation required.
All round there was plenty to like about Adelaide, but some late changes to the roster forced through injury, namely Brett Middleton, Lucy Deller and Shannon Bubb, may have contributed to the slow start.
A few more things go Adelaide’s way in 2020 and they will be pressing for a spot in the grand final.
What the coaches had to say
Anna Rogacki and Jonathan Warren-White knew the 2019 season would be a challenge with late roster changes and the pressure of notching up the team’s first ever win.
But they were pleased with the rapid growth of their roster and the way they applied themselves throughout the season.
“I think we did really well forging pretty immediate connections with each other,” they said in a statement.
“We were challenged with three roster changes before the games started, plus there were new players coming into the team.
“We were very impressed with how each athlete on the team committed to the wellbeing and standard of excellence of the AUL.
“We competed with and against the best, showed up for every set we played and we generated a lot of pressure on defense.”
The coaches know the Dragons are close and hope to realise that potential next season.
“The challenge for the Dragons is to push for the next level – to close the margin between us and the best,” they said.
“We are close but if we can cut back our unforced error rate and increase our conversion rate we will begin to play and push the best.”