For the second straight season, Goulburn Valley Hockey Association’s A-women grand final came down to a penalty shootout.
Remarkably, it was also the same two teams competing for glory on Saturday as last season, with Mooroopna and Shepparton Youth Club desperately trying to best the other before the match was forced into sudden death.
The Scorchers were able to flip the script on the Cats in the heart-stopping finish this time around, with two successful penalty strikes enough to claim the honours after both teams remained scoreless throughout regular time.
‘‘The girls were pretty nervous to back it up a second year in a row, but it’s good when a grand final is really close, it makes for a great atmosphere,’’ SYC coach Molly Willmott said.
‘‘It was a pretty great feeling when we won, I was definitely happy with our defensive unit.
‘‘We were a bit off our game and our defensive side had their work cut out for them, but I was very proud of the girls for sticking it out and working hard.’’
The Cats could not turn the minor premiership into back-to-back grand final triumphs, but captain Ellie Winzer said her side simply could not buy a goal.
‘‘We really wanted to come out and win but we just couldn’t get it in the goals,’’ she said.
‘‘Their goalie (Caylie Beck) is only in her second year and she’s improved massively.
‘‘But it’s been a great season overall, the A-women competition has been much closer than previous years.’’
Meg Nicholson and Merryn Coffey (also finals MVP) sent the Scorchers into their celebrations by sinking their respective penalties, but for the Cats the defeat started from the first whistle.
‘‘In the first half we didn’t really play to our style or our structure,’’ Winzer said.
‘‘We really took it to them in the second half, but they really defended exceptionally well.
‘‘They probably only had two runs forward for the half, but we just couldn’t convert our chances.’’
The Scorchers also dominated the association awards with Hayley Pepperell (best-and-fairest) and Willmott (leading goal-scorer) recognised.
‘‘I think Hayley was really consistent throughout the season,’’ Willmott said.
‘‘She was our assistant coach and stepped up into the captaincy role, and she definitely deserved to take out the association best-and-fairest.
‘‘She was great on grand final day as well.’’
●The Scorchers were outplayed in the B-women’s decider, with Echuca-Moama taking a 2-0 victory home with it.
Rachael Costello and Chloe Kell scored for the River Rats in the triumph, while Scorcher Natasha Keen-Smith was named the MVP in a losing cause.
Benalla’s Melissa Gillies took out the best-and-fairest gong, while Val Beis (Euroa) and Courtney Thompson (Echuca-Moama) shared the goal-scoring honours.
Best-and-fairest: Hayley Pepperell (Shepparton Youth Club).
Top goal-scorer: Molly Willmott (Shepparton Youth Club).
Best-and-fairest: Melissa Gillies (Benalla).
Top goal-scorer: Val Beis (Euroa) and Courtney Thompson (Echuca-Moama).