Echuca-Moama Lady Raiders have bowed out of the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League Knockout Cup semi-finals after a 3-0.By Luke McManus
Echuca-Moama Lady Raiders ‘‘exceeded expectations’’ this season, according to coach Darryl Brown.
The Lady Raiders’ 2013 campaign came to an abrupt end on Sunday, defeated by Colts United 3-0 in the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League Knockout Cup semi-finals.
The Lady Raiders were on the back foot from the outset after United’s Elizabeth Watkins scored two goals early in the game.
‘‘Colts played good football right from the get go,’’ Brown said.
‘‘We just couldn’t settle, we were second to the ball, chased their tales and just couldn’t get into the game.
‘‘Whether the nerves got to the girls, we just didn’t come to play.’’
Watkins, an under 19 state representative, netted her third goal in the second half, completing an impressive hat-trick and ending the Lady Raiders’ hopes of a comeback.
‘‘They were the better team on the day,’’ Brown said. ‘‘We just had one of those weeks.
‘‘I’m disappointed with the result because I thought we would do better.
‘‘We managed to scare the Colts twice during the year and I thought we took a lot from beating Strathdale last week.
‘‘Wasn’t meant to be.’’
Brown said the usual suspects Paige Pinson, Roweena Ilsley, and skipper Cassie Powell all played extremely well, while defenders Bridget and Tahlia Powell stood firm despite the mounted pressure applied by the Colts’ forwards.
The loss ends what was a strong 2013 season for the Lady Raiders, finishing fourth in the championship behind the competition’s standout teams in Strathdale, Colts United and Spring Gully United.
After winning back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012, Echuca-Moama saw an inexperienced playing group take the field this time around, after an exodus at the start of the season.
The Lady Raiders registered impressive results in the side’s 20 matches this year, including their 1-1 draw against the Colts who, at that stage, were undefeated.
Brown said that match, along with their 6-2 smashing of Strathdale in the knockout cup quarter-finals were ‘‘fantastic efforts.’’
‘‘To be the only team to score six goals against the champs was really pleasing,’’ he said.
‘‘If I put the year into perspective, as inexperienced as we were, we shouldn’t have progressed as far as we did.’’
‘‘I am extremely proud of the year.’’
The win capped off a fantastic season, with the under 14s securing the cup/championship double after finishing the regular season on top of the ladder.
The game was locked at 2-2 with three minutes to go, then an incredible last minute surge by the Raiders registered not only one, but two goals before the final siren, with the final goal ‘‘calming the coach’s nerves’’.
Topping off their thrilling victory, the juniors received their hard-fought medals and the cup from retired Melbourne Heart goalkeeper Clint Bolton.
Brown said he was ‘‘more excited’’ than the kids to be in the presence of the former A-League star.
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