City West Falcons have pulled off an upset to claim the Victorian Mens and Mixed Netball League’s premier division mixed premiership.
Having finished fourth after the regular season, the Falcons scraped into the grand final and went in as underdogs against reigning premiers Parkville Panthers, who were undefeated for the season.
The grand final was a close affair with no more than six goals separating the teams all night.
The Falcons got the jump early, but the Panthers hit back, levelling the scores at three-quarter time.
The Panthers grabbed ascendancy early in the last quarter but couldn’t pull away and the Falcons again levelled the scores.
Falcons grabbed the lead and kept it, eventually winning 49-46.
It’s the first season the Falcons have fielded a mixed team, but they have been one of the dominant teams in the Victorian Netball League.
Mixed goaler and Falcons under-19 VNL coach Josh Smith said all those involved were ecstatic to get the win.
“We played the team who had won the last two years,” he said. “To beat them in the grand final is phenomenal.
“We trailed for three minutes in the last quarter before our goal defence [Cam Martin] and wing defence [Anger Akec] took some crucial intercepts. It’s been really good to work with such a young group.”
Goal attack Maddie Gray was named best on court. She shot 29 goals from 31 shots and went at 100 per cent in the final quarter.
Smith said it was pleasing to see Gray, who was one of the youngest on court, stand up in a big way. Both Gray and Akec are part of the Falcons’ under-19 team.
Maggie Lind, who had been flying in and out all season from Adelaide, was a calming influence on the side, especially in the finals.
Smith said the result was a true team effort, with everyone who got court time contributing.
He said the Falcons would look at continuing the mixed team next year because it benefitted the VNL girls, and the male team members who are in Victorian men’s state teams.
“It’s a different style of game and teaches the girls a lot of different skills,” Smith said.
“The men’s game is played in the air and it’s good for the girls to have the experience of the ball coming in a different way.”