It was a heartbreaking end to the season for the Camden Haven Redbacks Under 18 Girls on Friday night, as they were defeated 3-0 in the grand final by Port United.
In front of a record home crowd, the premiers were confident a win could go their way. In their last meeting, the Redbacks had defeated United 2-1 to qualify for the grand final, and they were positive they could achieve such a result again.
But if one thing is for certain in finals football, it's that nothing is guaranteed and there are no easy wins. Both sides brought their A-Game to the field, but it was United who were able to capitalise on their chances, with a superb high kick out of the keeper's reach giving United a 1-0 lead at half-time.
Down, but certainly not out, the Redbacks took back to the field in the second half, determined to get the scores level. There were some great chances from both sides, but again it was United who were able to capitalise, with a stellar shot mid-way through the second half extending their lead, and a scramble in the box in the dying minutes resulting in the final goal, and a 3-0 win to United.
The devastation and disappointment felt by the Redbacks was heartbreaking, but the pride felt by the crowd never wavered.
"Our girls had a fantastic season this year," president Tamara Burns commented after the match.
"Many of these girls are only 14 and 15 and should be playing in the 16's competition. But they stepped into the 18's team, won the premiership, and made it to the grand final. We are so proud of what they were able to achieve this year, and can't wait for next year as they continue to develop."
"Port United had a fantastic game, and their goals were sheer quality. Our girls should not be disappointed as none of their supporters are - we're nothing but proud."
In the Redbacks other grand final match of the weekend, the Premier Under 12's team went down 2-0 to Lake Cathie. Though undefeated all season, the Redbacks were unable to hold out a fast-finishing Cathie squad who played a fantastic game and had some terrific shots.
"This was the first year of competitive soccer for our Under 12's," Burns stated.
"They were a combination of two teams and they achieved amazing results this year. We know they feel disappointed, but their club and all parents and supporters who were there at the game were nothing but proud, and again, we can't wait to see this team flourish in the years ahead."
The grand final matches conclude the season for the Redbacks. The club will be celebrating the year that was at the junior presentation on September 29 and senior presentation on October 12.