Time is of the essence for Adelaide Fire women’s team as they face a regular season ‘final’ against the top of the table Perth Thundersticks at home on Sunday.
With three rounds to go and coming off the bye, Adelaide Fire must start winning to be any chance of featuring at the business end.
One key figure integral to their required late season surge is Jillaroo Lucy Sharman. Coming off two narrow losses to the Canberra Chill and HC Melbourne, Sharman is confident the Fire is up for the challenge against Perth.
“We’ve done a lot of reflecting on our previous games and looking at how we can use our strengths and structures to our advantage,” said Sharman.
“Personally, I’ve been working on my distribution skills quite a bit, I think that’s one of the main threats that I bring. I’ve also been working on being able to play the long balls, the overheads and the big slaps as well as the short game and playing on instinct and what’s in front of me.
“As a team, we’ve put some strategies in place to ensure we’re more dangerous in the circle and get a few more goal-scoring opportunities and conversions under our belt.”
Having grown up in the famed wine region of Coonawarra before moving to Adelaide at 13, Sharman, now in her second season of the JDH Hockey One League, still finds it surreal that she’s playing against and alongside Australia’s best.
“Playing on grass is definitely a lot different from turf, but playing regionally is where I built a lot of my confidence,” Sharman said.
“I started as a striker on the grass and slowly moved back through the field as I got older. You never know, maybe you’ll see me as a keeper eventually.”
“Now that I’m playing in the Hockey One league and the national squad, it doesn’t quite feel real. It can be a bit daunting at times, but I have such a good support team around me.”
“I love playing alongside Hattie Shand, Jane Claxton and Anna Crowley at the back, they help me learn and really strive to be the best I can be.”
“Hattie and I have played together at the Adelaide Hockey Club and now in the Adelaide Fire for a few years now. We both grew up in the country and have similar ways of play, so I’ve always looked up to her.
“I was so starstruck playing my first year with Jane last year and it has been really cool to see the maturity she has and just the way she reads the play.
“The same with Anna [Crowley] from the New Zealand Black Sticks, she’s unreal and a really good support to have at the back. She has lots of experience and is such a great asset to our team.”
Having recently been named in the 18-player Jillaroos Junior World Cup team that will travel to Chile later this month, Sharman is proving herself at the top level.
A testament to her talent, perseverance and potential, she competed for Australia in the Japan Series in February, later earning selection in a national squad of 35 eligible players that would be cut to 18.
“It was a crazy feeling to be named in the Jillaroos Junior World Cup team, there were so many emotions that were involved in the process and to be honest it was such a relief to receive the email,” she said.
“It doesn’t quite feel real yet but I’m so excited to be going away with such a good group of girls and an amazing team of support staff. We look pretty deadly and I’m excited to see what we can do.”
With the Jillaroos a proven pathway to representing Australia at the senior level, the humble Sharman is committed to achieving her hockey dream.
“Personally, my goal for this year was to be selected in the Jillaroos and go to the Junior World Cup and I feel quite accomplished to have achieved that dream,” she said.
“I think it’s every young hockey player’s dream to play for their country and I know I’m not guaranteed anything, but I’m going to believe in myself and push myself as hard as I can to hopefully get there.
“Moving forward, there will be lots of hard work going into the process, especially now I know that the hard work can pay off.”
Coming into the Fire’s final home fixture of the season, Sharman is excited about the opportunity to play in front of a patriotic South Australian crowd.
“We love playing at home and with this weekend’s game being our last of the season, it’ll be exciting to see a big crowd – it makes for a great atmosphere,” she said.
“My family and friends come out to our home games too, and I couldn’t be more thankful for their support. It’s great having them there and really means a lot, as it always has done over the years when they’ve traveled so far to see me play.”