Echuca shocked in NCWL grand final

By Brayden May

What was meant to be a dream turned into a nightmare for Echuca’s women’s football team after the side was shocked by Mooroopna in the Northern Country Women’s League grand final on Sunday night. The Cats completed their fairy tale in stunning fashion, storming home to an 18-point victory courtesy of a five-goal-to-two second half. From the first bounce, Mooroopna hunted the Murray Bombers in packs, providing the stronger physical presence, much like in the preliminary final against Shepparton. Echuca coach Mick McInnes demanded a response from his players at quarter-time, but their efforts were only bettered by a desperate Cats outfit. And not even Echuca’s desperation in the final term was enough as the dam wall refused to burst in Mooroopna’s defensive 50. ‘‘It’s extremely difficult to put into words,’’ Echuca coach Mick McInnes. ‘‘We’ve put in a lot of hard work and unfortunately we’ve had a down day at the wrong time. At times, Mooroopna just wanted it more than us and they got their rewards. ‘‘I thought we got the ball forward enough, but we just couldn’t convert our chances. ‘‘No matter what I’m extremely proud of this group for how far they’ve come in the past 12 months.’’ Dynamic duo Jess Pitts and Jodie Lake did all they could to get the Murray Bombers across the line. Pitts almost single-handedly swung the game in her side’s favour with a dominant spell in the middle of the ground, while Lake kicked three goals despite sometimes being opposed by up to four defenders. ‘‘Jess was outstanding in the middle,’’ McInnes said. ‘‘We needed someone to get their hands on the footy and she was just about everywhere. ‘‘As a team we always knew Jodie was in for a tough night and I thought she fought through the close attention brilliantly.’’ While McInnes was still raw from the loss, he had one message for his side. ‘‘We must stick together, learn from our mistakes and come back stronger.’’

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