Commonwealth Games hero Cara Koenen has opened up about her pivotal role in the Diamonds’ gold medal, revealing her moment of glory is still a blur and she doesn’t even know what her stats were from the historic win over Jamaica.
Australia lost the round robin game against Jamaica only to come up against them days later in the gold medal match in Birmingham.
The Diamonds had started the game in control but Jamaica found a way in during the second quarter – prompting coach Stacey Marinkovich to make a key change – swapping shooter Steph Wood for Koenen.
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Koenen had Jamaican defender Shamera Sterling on the back foot and didn’t miss a shot – it was the switch up that changed the game.
“The whole second half was just a blur,” Koenen said.
“It was just the switch up that worked on the day and I probably got lucky in the fact I have played against Shamera at a domestic level and I kind of know what she maybe doesn’t particularly like and what she prefers the shooter to be doing.
“I don’t even remember what really happened, I’ve never looked at the stats. The moments after (the game) though, they’ll stay with me forever.
“I don’t think it will ever really sink in, it was such a surreal experience.”
It wasn’t a plan that had been discussed pre-game it all came down to what was happening on the court at the time – with Marinkovich choosing to act rather than wait as she did in the round game clash.
Koenen had a blinder – netting all 15 of her shots, providing Gretel Bueta with seven goal assists and eight circle feeds.
A humble Koenen said the win was a team effort and credit had to go to everyone who had been involved on the four-year journey since Australia lost by one point to England at the 2018 Gold Coast Games.
The Diamonds will now look to prepare for the 2023 Netball World Cup, which will be played in South Africa from July to August.
To prepare, two international series have been organized, one against New Zealand and the other against England.
Koenen is one of the few players named in both squads, as Marinkovich looks to explore other possible combinations in the lead up to the Cup.
The shooter said the matches would play a key role in their Cup preparation.
“I think it showed when we played Jamaica at Commonwealth Games how hard it is when you are not coming up against an opposition on a regular basis,” Koenen said.
“Like we don’t play them in any quad series or really international series outside of marquee events.
“So these are an awesome opportunity for us to do a bit of research and see what our combinations look like up against different styles of defense and different players.”
It will be the first time the Sunshine Coast based athlete will don the Diamonds dress for a home game.
Diamonds faced some hostile crowds at the Commonwealth Games with close to 9000 spectators cheering against them every match – especially in the semi-final clash against England.
“The crowds at the Commonwealth Games were absolutely phenomenal,” Koenen said.
“Unfortunately they were not on our side whatsoever. They were completely hostile towards us.
“It will be so nice to be able to play in front of a friendly crowd that can get behind us because they really are an extra player on court, it’s such a cliche but it is so true.”
More than a month out from the games, which will be played across multiple states and venues in October and November, the game against England in Newcastle is already sold out.
The three-match England Series will start on October 26 in Newcastle off the back of the Diamonds Constellation Cup campaign against the New Zealand Silver Ferns.
The England Series will continue into November with the second match to be played at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena on October 30 before the third and final game will be held at the Brisbane Entertainment Center on November 3.
Newcastle marks the first venue to sell out across the Diamonds 2022 international series, with over 4,100 tickets issued.
“We are thrilled to see how eager fans are to watch the Origin Australian Diamonds in action against England in Newcastle,” Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan said.
“We are excited to give people across the country the opportunity to see our national team off the back of an incredible gold medal win at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.”
All England Series and Constellation Cup matches will be broadcast live and exclusively on Fox Sports, available through Foxtel and Kayo.
Originally published as Diamonds shooter Cara Koenen key contribution to gold medal glory