IT was a tough night for the Stars last Wednesday, March 6, as the Stars lost their first-ever game, 74-32, to last year’s Victorian Netball League Grand Finalists, North East Blaze.

Though Blaze had the first centre pass, they managed to secure possession and went five goals up to none after the Gippsland team couldn’t force the ball into their shooting circle.

The Blaze were a well-oiled machine transitioning the ball into attack as if it were second nature.

Vice-captain Myah Healey got the ball rolling at around the four-minute mark, sinking a beautiful shot from mid-range to get the Stars on the board.

For much of the game, it was all one-way traffic in the Blaze’s direction, as the Stars found it difficult to bring the ball down the court due to the Blaze’s full-court pressure.

Blaze’s Dee Dee Lambert and Sale Magpie in the Gippsland League were unstoppable for the opposition. Lambert was the goal scorer of the match, sinking 32 shots with 91.43 percent efficiency.

Traralgon’s Sophie Lecchino worked well to assist Healey in the goal ring, lobbing a ball into the perfect space, which saw the stars get their third goal.

The Gippsland team began to handle the pressure from their fierce opponent and forced some errors late in the first quarter, but the lead was already too far gone. The Blaze had 20 goals to the Stars seven by the first break.

Morwell’s Chloe Radford and Bairnsdale’s Paris Dunkley ran the centre well, but there was nothing she could do; the Blaze had their years of training together, complete with set plays and systems.

Healey was instrumental in most of the Star’s goals, holding strong despite the score being a target in the goal circle.

The Stars defenders were under the pump all game as the ball kept flying back to attack.

In the second quarter, Heyfield’s Jayde Parsons took the court for the first time in goal keeper with her work cut out for her against Lambert.

The Stars found some rhythm and scored goals a little easier than they did in the first term. Going 12 goals to 24 around four minutes into quarter two.

Though Blaze was impressive, the Stars never gave up and fought until the very end. Vibes were high, and the on-court talk was still there.

By halftime, it was North East Blaze 40 to the Stars’ 14.

Karingal’s Emma Felsovary scored the first goal of the third term, but again, Blaze took control of the ball and kept increasing the margin.

In the final term, The Gippy Stars showed good signs of perseverance, scoring 12 goals in the last 15 minutes.

Healey was named the player of the match for her outstanding effort in goal attack and goal shooter.

Impressive: Traralgon’s Myah Healey was the Stars’ best in the Round 1 loss against North East Blaze. Photograph: Supplied

Stars head coach Jo Ballinger said the Under 23 side has had issues starting games in the preseason practice matches but has always managed to finish strong.

The Blaze, who were Division 1’s Grand Finalists losing out of the premiership, are hungry to go all the way in this brand new VNL season.

But for the Stars, their journey has only just begun.

The Stars will now take on fellow VNL newcomer the Bendigo Strikers tonight (Wednesday, March 13) at the State Hockey Netball Centre.

Last week, the Strikers lost to Wilson Storage Southern Saints 65 to 27, dropping them to the bottom of the ladder.

The Strikers and Stars game will be a regional rumble so expect to see a lot of fight from the team in this exciting match-up.