It took two heart-stopping periods of extra time for South Eastern Women’s Football (SEWF) to claim a history-making one-point victory over the Northern Football Netball League (NFNL) at Preston City Oval on Saturday.
The only women’s game in the 2018 WorkSafe AFL Victoria Community Championships ended with scores tied at 4.6.30 apiece – with SEWF securing a thrilling victory with a Chloe Hunt point in the opening minute of a second extra time.
It was a game that left players exhausted, with coaches and spectators gasping for air after a magnificent finish to a wonderful exhibition of football.
“It was a heart stopper in every sense, I don’t think I can remember my heart beating for the last 10 minutes of the game,“ said winning SEWF coach Megan Snart.
“I’m just so incredibly proud of the team for fighting so hard, it was a real wrestle of momentum for most of the game. One team would play good football, then the other, it was just a great game of football and a great contest all day.”
Northern took the early lead through Ashleigh Bayes, before Hunt answered with the first of her three goals to see SEWF take a one-point lead at quarter time. A Hunt mark and goal early in the second quarter saw SEWF extend its lead to four points at the main break.
Play opened up at the start of the third term, Sarah Astone kicking SEWF out to a 10-point lead before Northern kicked two in a minute, with goals to Tara Chetcuti and Cassie Hurst seeing the home side regain the lead.
SEWF drew level at three-quarter time, setting up a thrilling final quarter.
Hunt, who proved the difference between the two teams in the end, ran into an open goal at the start of the last term, before Hurst responded with an inspirational piece of play at the 12-minute mark.
A strong tackle, which saw Jess Adams leave the field, was duly converted by Hurst to see scores locked away once again. Northern pushed, with a crucial marking contest between SEWF’s Riley Cridland and Northern’s Linda Thorp going Cridland’s way – with SEWF holding on desperately to force extra time.
The teams couldn’t be split in the first five minutes of extra time before Hunt’s point saw the visitors celebrate in style. Snart said her girls thoroughly deserved their final siren celebration.
“I just think they were really proud of what they had achieved, coming together just four weeks out from the game and gelling the way they did was just an incredible effort from everyone involved,” she said.
“For some of these girls who have an eye on the future, this was the next level, the highest level they had played at and it was a real credit to them the way they withstood the challenge.
“We knew we had a good mix and a good bond, but how that translated into game day was a bit of an unknown, and so was the calibre of the opposition.”
Snart said there was nothing between the two teams all day.
“The teams were very well matched for pace and skill but I was most pleased with our endeavour to tackle and our all-round pressure,” she said.
“We had our structures, but the effort the team produced made that small amount of difference in the end.”
Olivia Aing, an Eastern Devils premiership player last year, was named SEWF’s best player after a gutsy display that saw her on numerous occasions put her body on the line.
“Olivia has always had that relentless attack on the ball, she doesn’t know any other way, but there were so many other good players as well,” Snart said.
“Chloe (Hunt) kicked three goals so was super important and I thought Jess Johnston played a terrific game through the midfield. Westy (Michelle West) did well on a wing and Lauren Law played a huge role late in the game, playing a tagging role to perfection.
“And I thought Chelsea (Wilkinson), Tayla (Tatterson) and Belinda Ousley were also really good players throughout the course of the day.”
Snart said she was fully spent by the final siren, with two key emotions pumping through her veins.
“Pride and relief, they’re the two things I felt most after the game,” she said.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself, coming up against such an experienced coach in Chyloe Kurdas, and it was just that feeling of pure relief that got me in the end.”
Ellie Koiker, Sarah Wright, Catherine O’Bryan and ruckman Sabrin Nyawela were named Northern’s best players.
SOUTH EASTERN WOMEN’S FOOTBALL 1.3 2.4 3.6 4.7.31
NORTHERN FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE 1.2 1.6 3.6 4.6.30
SEWF Goals: Chloe Hunt 3, Sarah Astone. Best: Olivia Aing, Jess Johnston, Belinda Ousley, Chelsea Wilkinson, Tayla Tatterson, Michelle West.
Northern Goals: Cassie Hurst 2, Ashleigh Bayes, Tara Chetcuti. Best: Ellie Koiker, Sarah Wright, Gemma Wright, Catherine O’Bryan, Sabrin Nyawela, Tamara Olcorn.