One step short in 2018, yet one step further than 2017 for the East Coast EaGALs.
Following a heartbreaking loss on Saturday to minor premiers Wollongong: 9.7.61 to 4.4.28, a margin which hardly reflects the contest mind you, heads were down and tears flowed.
That is until the women were reminded or their emergence this season.
Sure 2018 had officially come to an end, but it came after the side defeated every foe at least once throughout the season.
And on top of that, 2018 was year which went a long way in proving a Premier Division Women’s team deserves to be running around Kanebridge Oval in 2019.
Finishing 5th in 2017 before rising to 3rd this season, the Eagals made considerable improvements in 2018, completely enhancing ball movement, attack on the footy and most importantly their all round club-commitment and dedication.
The future sure is bright.
With a battle against Western Magic in the Grand Final on the line in a Preliminary Final this past Saturday, Wollongong overcame the Eagals fortunate home ground advantage, starting strong and winning the mental battle early despite both sides aiming up psychically with a multitude of destructive tackles.
The Saints led by 2 goals at 1/4 time, challenging the Eagals to bite back.
That they did, as captain Sarah Ford stood up whilst taking charge of the midfield alongside League Best and Fairest contender Em Goodsir, both breaking the game open to lead the side to within 3 points of the Saints at half-time.
There were only inches in it throughout the 3rd quarter, a period which featured one of the best moments for the club in 2018.
Devoted player and clubwoman Dana Polverino made her long-awaited return from a nasty shoulder injury, to kick a welcomed and crucial goal in the Premiership 3rd quarter.
It lifted the crowd, and sure lifted the women’s intensity for the remainder of the quarter, trailing by only a goal at the final break.
Maddie Ferguson, Brenna Tarrant and Laura Moran continued impressive gameday displays in the 3rd term as well.
Here we go and Game on.
Down to the final quarter, both sides desperate and hungry for victory.
A Grand Final berth beckons
It became clear however in this quarter, that the Eagals couldn’t contain and ultimately fell victim to Wollongong’s powerplay.
All day inside 50, the Wollongong forwards were a headache for Eagal defenders, taking plenty of marks and solidifying dominance.
The ball may go up, but the Saints players knew they’d mark it in front of goal.
The blue and gold charges never gave up, but the Saints eventually ran away with the result, pushing the scoreline out to a 5 goal victory, that as aforementioned did not reflect East Coast’s fight across the four quarters.
But certainly in the last of these 4 quarters, in which Wollongong demanded another shot at the Premiership Cup.
The Eagals’ season was sent packing, but boy are the club proud of their efforts in 2018.
As the most successful team inside Season BM18 at East Coast, the women set the standard and wrote the blueprint for long-term success.
You turn up and train then you rip in on the weekend, together, for each other, with the drive and determination to be successful in finals.
One step short, but one step further in 2018.
One more step towards a maiden grand-final seems inevitable in 2019.
A magnificent one for the EagALS.
More than anyone in the club, they embodied BM – BENCHMARK/BESTMATES – 18.
A sensational endorsement for women’s footy at East Coast.
Wollongong Saints 2.4-16 3.4-22 5.4-34 9.7-61
East Coast Eagles 1.0-6 3.1-19 4.4-28 4.4-28
Goal Kickers: E. Morris 3, R. McGartland 2, P. Davis 2, C. Stanton, L. Donnelly
Best Players: L. Donnelly, J. Stanton, A. Anderson, K. Chan, S. O”Donoghue, P. Davis
East Coast Eagles
Goal Kickers: C. Arndt, E. Goodsir , B. Hourigan, D. Polverino
Best Players: S. Ford, E. Goodsir , M. Ferguson, B. Tarrant, A. Dallaway, L. Moran