Footscray players were left “gutted” after a 3-2 elimination final defeat to Greensborough in the Hockey Victoria women’s premier league at the State Netball Hockey Centre on Saturday.
The Bulldogs first tilt at top-flight finals was going well until a decision late in the game went against them and the Burra capitalised with the decisive goal with three minutes left.
“It was goal for goal, they got one, we got one,” Bulldogs women’s team manager Greg Hopkins said of the tight contest.
“They got the goal with about three minutes to go, but there was a free that should’ve been awarded to us deep in our defence, which was seen by everybody, unfortunately except for the two umpires.
“Our players all stopped because it was so obvious, but the play kept on going and in a couple of passes it was a goal.
“They stopped the game after that, the umpires convened, but neither of them saw any infringement.
“It wasn’t a very nice way to lose.”
By no means is Footscray isolating that decision as the reason for its exit. Sometimes the rub of the green goes your way, other times it doesn’t, which Hopkins pointed out, saying: “That’s sport, isn’t it?”
Footscray had enough attacking penetration to put a winning score on the board.
The Bulldogs lacked that knock-out punch.
“The decision we were frustrated with, but the reality was that we had chances late in the game that we probably just didn’t take,” Hopkins said.
“When you don’t take them, particularly in a final, they can come back to hurt you.”
Footscray will have a sour taste for the ending, but eventually it will be looked upon as a memorable campaign.
It was a largely youth-driven squad who took the Bulldogs to their first finals’ appearance in the big league.
Taking a finals-hardened Greensborough team down to the wire in a final is no mean feat.
“As the coach [Lachlan Anderson] said after the game, he couldn’t be more proud of the girls,” Hopkins said.
“It’s the first year the club has made finals in the top grade, so there’s certainly plenty to get excited about in the future.
“We have got youth on our side, but we’d die for a couple more experienced players, which is what the opposition had.
“We played a side in Greensborough that have probably been in the finals for the past 10 years and that experience counts for a lot.”
In men’s premier league, Footscray was eliminated from the title race, going down 4-1 to a more advanced Power House/St Kilda at the SNHC on Saturday evening.
“They just had a bit more polish and a bit more class around the ground,” Hopkins said.
Meanwhile, Altona was beaten 4-1 in a shoot-out by Camberwell after the game at SNHC ended 3-3. Pat Phillips was the Seagulls only scorer in the shoot-out, while Camberwell managed to find the back of the net on all four attempts. The Seagulls will live to fight another day after earning a double chance.