A late City West Falcons’ comeback fell short against Melbourne University Lightning in the Victorian Netball League semi-finals.
Just one goal separated the two teams when they met in the second last round of the season, and with a grand final spot on the line, this time was just as fierce.
Lightning held their nerve, and the lead, to win 42-41. The fact the Falcons came so close was a miracle in itself.
They struggled for the first two and half quarters, particularly in the attacking end, and trailed by as many as nine goals in the third quarter.
The margin got to within one goal twice in the last quarter, but turnovers proved costly and they couldn’t get any closer.
Falcons’ coach Marg Lind said the match was definitely not one of their best.
“I thought we played quite poorly in the first half, so we probably did well to get ourselves back on track to get back into it,” she said.
“I still don’t think we played particularly well. I thought the first half we were too busy complaining about contacts and worrying about the physicality instead of getting on with the job.”
Peta Fay was providing all sorts of issues for Lightning shooter Mikaela Vaughan, and causing turnovers, but the attacking end struggled to capitalise.
Jane Cook replaced Kath Knott as goal shooter just before half-time.
“They were playing a box zone on us and we ran straight into the middle of it,” Lind said.
“It’s probably the worst thing to do. I think it took way to long to think through it and get on top of it.”
With the margin blowing out, Knott returned to the court, while Maggie Lind and Molly Jovic switched positions in the midcourt.
“Certainly the changes made a difference,” Lind said. “We put a bit of size in the middle, and Molly on the line added a little more speed.
“We took Kath off as she went missing for a small bit. When she came back on she did a much better job and kept her composure better which is something we’ve been working on.
“Jane is still young and inexperienced. So are Jacqui Newton and Tori [Honner]. ”
Having finished on top of the ladder, the Falcons get a second chance at a grand final spot when they face DC North East Blaze on August 17.
Last time these two met, the Blaze won 53-51.
The Falcons’ division 1 team will play the Blaze for a grand final spot on Wednesday night.
And the under-19 team plays ACU Sovereigns for a preliminary final spot.