WSL2 - GRAND FINAL Report by Torben Fink-Jensen
Both teams had a full complement of players this week, meaning the action was bound to be fast and furious. LisaAndo won the first swim-up for Essendon and thus had the first attack. Although we didn't score this time, it didn't take long for Sarah to get the ball in an extra-man attack and hit the top right hand corner from a perimeter shot. NYP were back to their usual lobbing behaviour and Katie will have sore arms after a few full-length stretches. NYP managed to level at 1-1 before Sarah was strong on the drive and snagged her second, leaving it 2-1 at the end of the first quarter. Essendon were also quick out of the blocks in the second with LisaAndo drawing a penalty and Alex scoring. NYP started a period of sustained pressure forcing kickouts across the pool, although some of the calls left us scratching our heads. Regardless, NYP scored to make it 3-2. Essendon's attacks had become a bit static but NYP weren't the fastest team on attack which allowed our players to get into defensive positions. Just as we were building confidence in our defence, NYP managed to get a player in space and levelled at 3-3. As the 2nd quarter was closing, the pace became a bit more frenetic, but it didn't lead to any more goals. Then it was NYP's turn to go hard at the beginning of the third quarter, scoring quickly to go 3-4 ahead. Maria was strangely kicked out while driving forward and being blocked by a NYP player, which gave NYP an extra player and they took advantage to make it 3-5. Essendon weren't done and a strong throw from Claudia left Sarah and LisaAndo in a 2 on 1, and Ando manage to unleash the pass at the right time to Sarah : goal! Now 4-5 at the break. The final quarter was very tight as players started tiring and the defence wasn't as constrictive as before, leading to another NYP goal, now 4-6. Then a further goal to NYP from a tight side angle gave them a 4-7 lead and we were starting to get worried. Luckily we managed a kick-out and Alex in space, with a pin-point pass from Olivia giving her a shot into goal for 5-7. Essendon were working hard to try and equalise while at the same time avoiding leaking any more goals, with Katie again just keeping a few good shots out. Essendon went hard on attack, with Mietta driving through on a loose ball and shooting home for 6-7. We were again swimming hard on attack as we chased one more goal and this time it was Sarah with the fantastic pass to Alex who was able to score again for 7-7! Tension was building as the clock ticked down and NYP had an attack, with Ash left in no-man's land and NYP scoring from the 6m line making it 7-8. Now with less than 2 min to go, it seemed like we wouldn't be able to make up the difference, but with Alex in good space, she was scragged from behind and one ref called a kick-out, but the other overruled with the correct call (penalty). Unfortunately, the goalie did a great save and with 30 seconds to go now, our hearts sank. But an NYP attack fizzled giving us one more chance and after a kick-out Phoebe received a useful pass to slam home the goal making it 8-8! Essendon held out one more attack and the final whistle went indicating a drawn game and a Penalty Shootout to determine te winner!
Essendon had first throw and Mietta stepped up and snuck the ball into the bottom right corner. NYP returned fire for 1-1. We had a couple of misses before Olivia managed another but unfortunately it was not enough as we lost 4-2.
I think we all knew a penalty shootout could randomly go either way, but well played NYP and we'll have to try again over the Winter season if we want that medal.
Essendon were defeated by the NYP Dragons (on penalties 2 - 4) : 8 - 8
Goals : Alex 3, Sarah 3, Mietta 2, Phoebe 1, Olivia 1
Our WSL2 Grand Final team with coach Darren Steere (photos courtesy of Torben Fink-Jensen)