Painful memories of consecutive one-goal grand final losses for the Westside Saints have been soothed after they broke through to triumph this year.
The Saints, a representative team out of the St Albans Caroline Springs Netball Association (SACSNA), scooped the 2019 under-17 state association title with a 19-13 win over Ovens and Murray in the grand final.
Tracy Wallace, who coached the Westside Saints in the heartbreaking grand finals of the past two years before handing over the reins to Darren Abela, was ecstatic to finally get the job done.
“It’s a different bunch of girls this year, but I’m the coach that had them for those two years that they lost, so it was kind of a relief to see them get the win,” she said.
“They knew that we came runners-up the two years before and how much it meant for the club to get the win. We’re the best under-17s in Victoria, so it’s a massive achievement.”
The SACSNA is one of the biggest netball associations in the state.
The elite 13 players who came together to form the under-17 representative team were chosen from 18 clubs within the association.
The team had two unbreakable qualities – strong camaraderie and competitiveness.
“They’re definitely competitive,” Wallace said with a chuckle.
“They were playing for sheep stations and they knew what it meant for the club to achieve that.
“They’re just an amazing bunch of girls and they will have a special bond for the rest of their lives after what they achieved together.”
It was a long road to the top for the Westside Saints.
The Saints qualified for the state titles after finishing runners-up in the Central West region.
After losing to Wyndham in the Central West decider, Westside Saints exacted some revenge on the big stage at the states with a 23-7 win in the semi-finals.
A nail-biting 13-11 win over Hampden in the preliminary final secured the Saints spot in the grand final in which they got redemption for the past two years.
Akira McCormack took out the best-on-court award in the grand final win over Ovens and Murray.
Ariana Luamanu, Kalolaine Moimoi and Mia Lucas were super consistent over the tournament.
A coach at Westside Saints and a game development officer with Netball Victoria, Wallace is keenly promoting the sport in Brimbank, Melton and the surrounding suburbs.
She is urging netballers keen to play to get in touch with the SACSNA.
“Our association is one of the most successful in the state, but when I go into schools to promote the game, not a lot of kids know about us,” Wallace said.