It was all going swimmingly for Footscray until two hellish minutes late in a 3-3 season opening draw with Melbourne University in the Hockey Victoria men’s premier league.
The Bulldogs seemed to be coasting to victory at the State Netball and Hockey Centre on Saturday with a two-goal lead and only 120 seconds of play remaining, but things took a dramatic twist and new Bulldogs coach Jarrod Lester’s first day in charge went from a dream to a disappointment.
“All in all, we thought we played well for round one,” Lester said.
“We done well to be leading 3-1, forcing them to play long and attack from deep in defence quite often.
“With about two minutes to go, they won a penalty corner, which they converted.
“Then we started with the ball, lost possession pretty easily and they were able to win a free hit inside their attacking 25.
“From there, they played a pretty hopeful ball into the circle and were able to get a deflection to put it past our keeper.”
Footscray will dissect what happened in that final two minutes, but it will not dwell on it.
It was an overwhelmingly positive performance from the Bulldogs, which is what Lester will try to reinforce once the late-game disappointment subsides.
“We won’t ignore the fact we let two goals up in the last minutes and we’ll need to review that, but the message to the players is that we’d take the positives out of what came out of today,” Lester said.
“New coach, four new players, to play the way we did, we’re fairly happy, but obviously disappointed not to put the nail in the coffin when we had our opportunities.”
Footscray captain Sam McIntosh capped a best-on-field display with two goals.
McIntosh, a defender, ventured forward to score two goals from penalty corners.
He also had to be attended to after copping a stray ball in the chin that drew blood.
Kyle Gildea was the Bulldogs other goalscorer.
Footscray will play its home opener against TEM on Saturday.
“We’re looking forward to getting out on our deck,” Lester said.
“It will be another challenge for us, but if we can see a little bit more improvement on today’s effort, we’ll be more than competitive and hopefully we’ll get our win.”
Meanwhile, Altona had a narrow 3-2 loss to Greensborough to open the season.
In the women’s premier league, Footscray fired with three goals in each half of a 6-0 demolition of Geelong.
Altona played out a 1-1 draw with Greensborough.