Hillside has fallen two heartbreaking points short of an Essendon District Football League division 1 grand final appearance.
Playing division 1 finals for the first time, the Sharks were looking to bounce back after being smashed by Glenroy in their semi-final.
On Sunday, they faced Airport West, which defeated them in the final round of the season.
Nothing separated the two teams until the final quarter, when the Sharks found themselves three goals ahead and appearing to have all the momentum.
Airport West had other ideas, kicking three quick goals to regain the lead and keep it until the end.
Matt Patane kicked a goal after the siren for the Sharks, but it wasn’t enough as they lost 13.9 (87)-13.8 (86).
Airport West, which has come from fourth, will play Glenroy in the grand final this coming Sunday.
Sharks director of football Cole Harvey said the manner of the loss was shattering.
“We got ourselves into a really good position,” he said.
“Credit to Airport West – they kept chipping away. They got three goals really quickly and the ball fell their way in the end. They stuck to their guns and came away with it.”
Harvey said Jordan Sinclair was best on ground for the Sharks, while another youngster, Lachlan Rayner, fought hard in the ruck.
Co-captain Victor Micallef was damaging in the middle of the ground.
Brandon Coletta kicked four goals for the Sharks and was again a highlight reel with some good marks.
Harvey said that despite the disappointment, he believed the Sharks would look back at the season as a success.
“We were facing relegation from division 1 three years ago,” he said.
“Now we find ourselves two points from a grand final. The goal was to play finals this year and to get the boys two finals. We did that.”
Harvey said the club had re-signed the entire playing group, with the exception of Troy Stone, who is retiring.
As well, the Sharks have re-signed
14 under-17 boys who will play under-19s next season and are starting to look at re-signing their under-19 players.
Harvey said the club was in a good position.
“We had three teams make preliminary finals and one team through to the grand final,” he said.
“It’s been a pretty successful year.”
The Sharks’ reserves team will face Taylors Lakes in the grand final on Sunday, with the Lions looking to win a fourth straight premiership.