Hillside’s remarkable season will continue for at least another week, with the Sharks through to the Essendon District Football League Women’s premier division preliminary final.
The surprise story of the season and now the finals, the Sharks are full of confidence.
On Saturday, they beat the higher-ranked Sunbury Kangaroos in their semi-final.
The Sharks were clearly the better team in notching up a 6.6 (42)-1.2 (8) victory.
Sharks coach Justin Fairservice said he was “absolutely ecstatic”.
“We played really well against a quality side – we’re really happy,” he said.
Fairservice said that despite being underdogs, the Sharks were confident. He said they had stepped up their game every time they had played the Kangaroos during the year.
“We were pretty pumped up,” he said. “We know we are improving and gave ourselves a chance.”
Two goals with the breeze in the opening quarter gave the Sharks momentum.
They restricted the Kangaroos to one goal in the second quarter to keep the lead at the main break.
In the third quarter, the Sharks kicked three goals to nil to open up a 27-point lead heading into the final break.
The Sharks kicked the only goal of the last quarter to put the icing on the cake.
Fairservice said they were able to win the midfield battle and that flowed on across the game.
“The pressure was the key,” he said. “We worked hard in the middle.”
Emily Paterno kicked three goals for the Sharks despite some close checking.
It was the defenders, though, who dominated in terms of the Sharks’ best players.
Nikita Wright was named best on ground, while Rachael Jackson continued her good form.
“Nikita was sensational and the others were really tight,” Fairservice said. “Nikita reads the ball so well.”
Hillside will face Keilor in the preliminary final.
Last time the teams met, the Blues won by 27 points. But Farirservice said a lot had changed since then.
“We can’t wait to get to training and [then] play Keilor,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it.
“The first time we played Keilor, it was tough and they pulled away in the final quarter. We’ve changed since them.”
Fairservice said that whatever the outcome of the preliminary final, he would regard his players as winners this season.
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” he said. “We’re enjoying our football and taking it one game at a time. If we can play our brand of football, we’ll see where it takes us.
“On our first night [two years ago], we had six girls. The club is happy and the staff are ecstatic.”
Keilor will enter the preliminary final on the back of a 5.12 (42)-2.0 (12) semi-final loss to Aberfeldie.
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