Future Diamond shines in ‘Battle of the Bruce’
Sunshine Coast mastercoach Noeline Taurua says Lightning goalshooter Cara Koenen can go on to play for Australia if she continues to build on her breakout year in Suncorp Super Netball.
The 23-year-old hit 37 goals from 40 attempts in the Sunshine Coast's 66-64 victory over a fast-finishing Queensland Firebirds in the 'Battle of the Bruce' at the Queensland State Netball Centre on Saturday.
The game-high goal haul was another step forward for the former Townsville junior who was part of the Lightning's back-to-back premiership wins as a back-up for Diamonds duo Caitlin Bassett and Steph Wood.
She hit the court 10 times across the two championship-winning campaigns including last season's grand final while Wood recovered from running into the goalpost.
The forensic science/criminology university student aced the pre-season to earn the first shot at replacing the departed Bassett, pipping Ugandan star Peace Proscovia for the starting berth at goalshooter in Round 1.
Koenen and Proscovia have continued to share starting duties alongside Wood but Taurua preferred the 190cm-tall Koenen for the derby with the Firebirds after she "went up another notch" at Lightning training during the competition's month-long break for the World Cup.
The ruthless efficiency of Koenen and Wood in the first half was the major driving force behind the Lightning creating their matchwinning buffer.
Taurua said Koenen had only scratched the surface and the sky was the limit if she kept getting stronger and adding to her game.
"Overall, I'm really happy with what she is doing. I think she is definitely a Diamond in the future,'' Taurua said.
"She's been chipping away for a few years now … being behind C-Bass (Bassett) and the learning she got from that has been invaluable for her progression and now the opportunity has opened up for her.
"I was really pleased with the volume she put up and the percentage (against the Firebirds). She is progressing nicely.''
The Lightning will host the NSW Swifts this Saturday night at USC Stadium in a top-of-the-table clash and Taurua said she will modify the training workloads for the club's five World Cup representatives to freshen them up.
The Firebirds will play the Giants in Canberra this Sunday.