By Jed Lanyon
When the Eastern Ranges Under 19 Girls last faced the Northern Knights in March it was a low point in their season as they squandered a 25 point lead as the Knights came home strong and stole the lead late in a thriller.
The two teams faced off again in an elimination final on Saturday 1 May where the Ranges exacted their revenge with a 28 point victory to put themselves into a NAB League preliminary final.
The game was played in similarly hot conditions despite being the second month into autumn and instead of Eastern running away with an early lead, the game was deadlocked for an entire half with no goals coming in the second or third terms.
A ten point Ranges lead at three quarter time wouldn’t have been enough to comfort the Eastern girls, who then came out firing in the final quarter, kicking three goals to put the Knights away and dash their finals hopes.
Alyssia Pisano starred once again kicking 3.3 from seven marks for the match as she outscored the opposition off her own boot. Following the game, she was presented with a medal as the Most Valuable Player in Vic Metro’s Under 17s squad.
Co-captain Bridget Deed put in an inspiring performance leading the game in many categories with 24 disposals, five inside-50s and four rebound-50s.
Coach Travis Cloke spoke of his team’s finals win.
“We talk about line in the sand type of moments in football careers all season and that game was for us against the Knights. We learnt so much as a team about how we want to shorten the ground and how we want to play a bit more of our football.
“Probably since then for the last eight weeks it’s really been about our journey as a team and we’re definitely seeing now the rewards. It was some tough love, from a playing group, not from the coaching staff but from the players. They realised what they did right and wrong, so it’s just so enjoyable to see their growth as individuals.”
Co-captain El Chaston said the loss to the Knights was a “turning point” in their season.
“We talked on Tuesday and Thursday about how much we’ve improved as a group. Last time we played Northern and got done, we saw that as a turning point in our season, we changed up our game style, went from being three individual units in a team to focusing on a team-first mentality and really working for each other and just celebrating each and everyone’s successes.
“No matter who it is, we just get behind everyone and you can see it in the game, when we play we just have fun. It’s the best thing and it’s why we end up with results like today.”
Eastern Ranges will now meet the Oakleigh Chargers in the Vic Metro preliminary final at Avalon Airport Oval, 10am on Saturday 8 May.
Eastern Ranges: 2.3, 2.3, 2.6, 5.9 – 39
Northern Knights: 1.1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.5 – 11
Best: M. Busch, G. Walsh I. Khoury, B. Deed, A. Pisano, R. O’Dwyer
Goals: A. Pisano 3, G. Wilson, R. O’Dwyer