A dream season is complete for Footscray in the Lacrosse Victoria women’s state league.
The Bulldogs have gone through undefeated en route to their first top-tier premiership since 2013.
A hard-fought 7-5 win over arch rivals Newport in the grand final at Treyvaud Memorial Park was the perfect ending to an impeccable season.
“To go undefeated is amazing,” Bulldogs captain Sarah Mollison said. “I’m very excited, very proud of the whole team.”
What makes the Footscray feat all the more impressive is that it came in world cup year. The stop-start season was split into two segments, but the Bulldogs never let their guard down.
They went 12-0 in the regular season and made it lucky number 13 in the season decider.
Mollison was impressed with the Bulldogs players’ commitment in the weeks following the world cup break.
“It was an interrupted year for all teams in state league because of the players that went to the world cup,” Mollison said.
“I think the last three or four weeks we’ve been really focused, everyone’s been at training, we’ve had some Saturday sessions as well, more time together, more touches on our stick and just sharpening up. That was the difference for us.
“That’s what helped us play the way we did today, the time we had together the past four weeks, just working hard and being really committed.”
Footscray raced to a 5-0 lead at half-time. The Bulldogs even managed to keep Newport off the scoresheet with a player down for 10 minutes after a card was issued.
Bulldogs goalkeeper Eliza Morgan played the half of her life.
“She made some amazing saves, all through the game, but particularly in the first half,” Mollison said.
“They tried to throw everything against her, she had quite a lot of shots against her, but she had a shut-out first half which is absolutely amazing.”
Newport was never going to surrender.
With a fourth consecutive premiership in its sights, the Porters made a comeback in the second half, cutting the deficit to just one goal.
Then came Footscray’s match-winning play, signed, sealed and delivered by three-goal grand final MVP Sarah Smith.
Danelle Mollison will get credited for the goal that sealed the title in the last minute for the Bulldogs, but it was Smith’s defensive ground ball win and exquisite pass that kick-started the play.
“She won the ground ball with four players around her, looked up and passed it, we hit an outlet and then Nelly’s scored at the other end, which put us two goals ahead,” Mollison said of Smith.
“She played a great game, scoring three goals and her hustle through the midfield.”
It was Footscray’s 12th state league grand final in a row, but only its third premiership in that time. Mollison said grand final day has been “dispiriting” at times, but believes this win could be a springboard for sustained premiership success.
“Hopefully this is the start of our journey of being a little bit more successful on grand final day,” she said.
“We’ve got a lot of awesome juniors coming up, so we hope to get back at it the next year and the year after, that’s our aim.”