By Bruno Visentini for Northern Football Netball League Media.
Whittlesea has advanced to the SG Print & Paper Division 2 Women’s first semi-final after defeating the Fitzroy Stars by 12 points at the Whittlesea Showgrounds.
Scores were level at three-quarter time before a three-goal to one final term from the Eagles ensured their path to the next stage, claiming a 5.6 (36) to 3.6 (24) win over the Stars.
Both sides qualified for their first finals series in the senior women’s competition after finishing with six wins each in the home and away season. The Stars occupied the higher spot on the ladder only by percentage, so it was no surprise that this match was as close as it was.
Neither side were able to make a real impact on the scoreboard in the early stages thanks to strong winds that made accurate kicking far from an easy task.
The Fitzroy Stars looked the more likely of the two teams to get the first major of the day but could only muster three behinds. They still took a two-point lead heading into quarter time.
With the game starting to open up in the second term, Whittlesea capitalised as 18-year-old Jade Ventura found the big sticks to give her side the lead.
The Eagles had all the ascendency in the term and were able to score a further three behinds, but against the run of play, the Stars’ Shania Austin Jones slotted home her seventh goal of the season to cut the deficit to just two points at the main break.
As it was to start the first quarter, the third term was an arm wrestle with both sides playing a very contested brand of footy. The Stars, who were looking to continue their momentum from the second term, almost kicked the first score of the second half with a kick from long distance that trickled out of bounds.
It was Whittlesea however who drew first blood, extending their lead to eight points as a result of a second goal from Ventura.
The Fitzroy Stars quickly bounced back, with Moorina Bonini’s snap at goal bringing her side’s deficit back to two points. It was also her first goal of the season.
Lisa Roper’s side continued to control the contest for the remainder of the term but struggled to convert their dominance into goals, scoring just two more behinds for the quarter.
It meant the scores stood at 17 apiece at three quarter time, setting up a highly anticipated final term.
The first major of the last quarter came just a couple of minutes into play when Stevie Hare kicked her first goal since May and as a result, the floodgates began to open for Whittlesea.
Having mustered two goals for the first three quarters of the game, the Eagles kicked three goals in the space of three minutes, with Annette Carle getting on the board before Ventura kicked her third to extend their margin to beyond three goals.
The quick burst of goals from Whittlesea didn’t bring the Stars down as they continued to push forward deep into the final quarter. But with each forward 50 entry came a sea of Whittlesea defenders who would swoop in and intercept their kicks, spearheaded by Chloe Best who was the most prevalent defender of the day.
Jessica Nannup did manage to kick the Stars third goal of the match but it was too little too late as Whittlesea celebrated their triumph in front of a healthy crowd at the Showgrounds.