It was a familiar feeling for City West Falcons when they suffered grand final heartache in the Victorian Netball League championship on Saturday night.
Having lost the previous two deciders, the Falcons lost to Melbourne University Lightning by the cruellest of margins – a single goal.
A total of just four goals had separated the two teams across the clubs’ three previous matches this season, and from early on it looked liked the grand final would be another close one.
When the Falcons scored the first goal of the last quarter, their leading margin was five – that would be the biggest margin of the game.
The Lightning didn’t go away, scoring the next five goals to level the scores.
A key turnover to the Lightning allowed it to open up a two-goal lead with several minutes remaining. That proved to be the final difference.
The Falcons were unable to break the Lightning’s centre pass, with the Lightning claiming a 53-52 win.
Falcons coach Marg Lind said to go so close yet again was devastating.
“We had our chances,” she said. “It was a classic grand final which could have gone either way with two evenly matched teams. We put ourselves in a position to win it and were four goals up going into the last. Their [Lightning] physicality in the last quarter paid off.
“There was a couple of calls which were very dubious, which really hurt us, but we needed to get back on track earlier than we did.”
Lind said the Falcons had focused on having a better start against the Lightning, after trailing by as many as nine goals in the semi-final between the two sides.
“It was an even start,” she said. “It’s something we focused on … we played a lot better this time even though the result isn’t different – one goal.
“They had a couple of calls go their way which were costly for us and it gave them momentum and we didn’t respond quick enough.
“We gave ourselves a chance and we played reasonably well most of the game.
“We put them in a good position with a four-goal lead into the last.
“We spoke about whether we could make any other changes, but it’s hard to say as you can’t predict a couple of calls and luck.”
Lightning co-captain Danielle Stewart, a former Falcons mid-courter, was named best on court.