Like the Utah Jazz and the Indiana Pacers, who famously had to “come through Chicago”, the women’s prems must navigate a difficult path if we are to claim back to back flags. Put it bluntly, we’ll have to “come through the Wildcats.”
It could, however, so easily have gone the other way, on what was another glorious day on Clapham Common. With the sun beating down on the concrete deck, the girls were looking to replicate the efforts of the men’s conference in the previous game, and book their spot in the decider. The opponents - a team we had failed to beat in both regular season games this season. A challenge indeed.
And it was a challenge our reigning premiers embraced, as a ferocious start ensued after the bounce. Having made pressure a trademark of their game, the girls had the Cats rattled early on, with the midfield firing on all cylinders. That in turn led to some great attacking play, with Cayne enjoying a first quarter to remember. Our little Kiwi with two in 20 minutes, as the visitors were held to just one point.
Opportunities, however, would soon be hard to come by, as the match turned into a good-old-fashioned arm wrestle. Still, though, the girls continued to grind, with Gemma producing a tagging masterclass on the Cats most dangerous player. Discipline would now be pivotal to success, but unfortunately the quarter saw the first of three 50’s conceded. It was just the opening the visitors needed, as they kicked their first on the stroke of half-time. A bitter blow, but the lead was still ours!
Six points ahead going into the second half, the premiership quarter was now upon us, and with the wind at their backs, the girls again swarmed forward. It was now a case of getting reward for effort, and reward soon came through a goal to Amber. Sadly another 50 gave the Cats another lifeline, meaning a big final term awaited both sides.
20 minutes now stood between both clubs and the big dance, and the tension was at fever pitch on and off the field. Spurred on by the support, both teams committed everything in search of a winner, and unfortunately for our girls it was the Cats who proved more clinical. A single goal near the end of the term would prove the decisive moment of the match. Two points the final margin, a truly bitter pill to swallow.