You may have heard the news by now but here is the story, as I wrote it during the game
If there was going to be a game the Pulse could win… it was probably against the Tactix a few weeks back. The Swifts may be second to bottom but they won the whole thing last season. This isn't the last gasp. The last gasp was a long time ago.
But maybe there is a change. As the team runs out the stadium crew plays Thriller, so maybe the Pulse are back from the dead. Coach Yvette McCausland-Durie is out with the players during warm ups pacing up and down, and she stands with a stern look during the passing drills, both things she hasn't done before.
And, holy shit, maybe it's working. For the first five minutes it's shot for shot. Then slowly the Swifts eke out a lead that gets to four goals. In any other game this season (except for the one against the Mystics) this lead would just get bigger and bigger. But the Pulse actually fight this time and by the end of the quarter the score is 15-15. I write a very ballsy tweet.
The Pulses' fight-back is created with, frankly, stunning defence. Althea Byfield (recently returned from injury) is seeking the ball and actively placing herself in the way of passes. (Later Swifts captain and GS Catherine Cox would say that Byfield plays "off the body", an unusual style that confuses shooters). Cushla Lichtwark possibly played her best game of the season, getting in the way, knocking players and disrupting the Swifts' rhythm.
The Pulse keep up the attack in the second quarter. There's a few shooting issues and Pulse GS Amaru-Tibble needs to keep her mouth shut to the ref (the Aussies are supposed to be the mouthy ones). And the halftime score is 27-28 to the Swifts.
At the half Broederlow is brought in, giving the Pulse more height in defence. It also means the Pulse have changed to an attacking defence. Defending all the way into the middle third and using the same pattern for a more forward offence rather than their usual side-to-side. It works. There's a fantastic piece of defending by Byfield and suddenly the Pulse have the advantage in the arm wrestle, going up by four points at one stage. But the Swifts aren't going to be pushed around and at the end of the third quarter it's 41-41.
I just want to point out that, SWEET JESUS FUCK this is tense.
The gameplan sticks in the fourth quarter and the Pulse are up by two (or one + centrepass) early. The Swifts' centre Kimberlee Green (no relation) is having a really physical battle with Lichtwark in the middle of the court. Green is getting angry and shovy (she's the angry looking one in the photos). A lot of terse words are exchanged.
But my god it's working, it's actually fucking working. With two and half to go the Pulse have a one goal lead with centre pass. An "injury break" only adds to the tension. Even Don't Stop Till You Get Enough can't ease things (quick note, nearly all the music has been Michael Jackson).
The Swifts draw with in one, one minute left, the Pulse have the centre pass, they look to have lost it in a wild pass but it came of a Swift finger, Pulse retain possession, a pass back to the centre third, surely that's time, I'm banging on the desk, Frankie Stevens is going nuts! And, and … this.
The NSW Swifts will go down history as that team, the ones that lost to the Pulse, and you can see that on their faces.
So what was it tonight? For some reason a win for the Pulse always seemed to be in the cards. There was more energy in the warm up, more enthusiasm. There was more determination in their play. Talking after the match we agreed that the team hadn't seemed this energetic and physical since the Mystics game, and they only lost that in overtime.
Here is the audio from the press conference
Swifts' captain Catherine Cox and Coach Julie Fitzgerald (who is coaching the World 7 against New Zealand later in the year):
Pulse captain Cushla Lichtwark and coach Yvette McCausland-Durie:
For those people who care these were recorded using Voice Memo on my iPhone
To this from last night
I asked how much the team would be allowed to celebrate given that there is still a game to play. The answer was in moderation, but my feeling is, let's let them go for it.