YOOGALI Soccer Club’s all-age women’s team has been here before.
Last season, Anthony Martinello and his squad went through the minor round undefeated – but once they made it into the finals, they crumbled, losing their semi and the grand final to Griffith City FC.
On Sunday, YSC – who is undefeated at local level again this year and has only lost in the State Cup – will get the chance to right some wrongs in its fourth consecutive grand final against Hanwood FC.
“We’re in the same spot we were last year. You play to win, but anything can happen in a grand final,” Martinello said.
“It’s always a different game. It’s one of those things. What can you do?
“You’ve just got to take it as it comes. Hopefully we can sort it out this time.”
Martinello needs no reminder of just how strong the HFC side that awaits them is, having wrestled with them and Yenda this season in what he described as a three-horse race for the women’s title.
“That proved itself when Hanwood and Yenda went to penalties on the weekend,” he said.
“There’s not a lot between us three sides – that’s why it was probably really important for us to go straight through to the grand final.”
Not that the extra week off has done YSC any real favours.
Martinello said his side won’t go into the match at full-strength, with an injury cloud hovering over key players Isabella Barbaro and Raechel Lyon.
Barbaro didn’t play in YSC’s semi-final win over Hanwood and despite pleading with Martinello to give her until the last moment to prove her fitness, the coach said he would take no risks.
“I would love to win a grand final, but these girls are young, and it would be wrong to talk them into playing if they were to do real damage to themselves,” he said.
“There’s injuries everywhere but after coaching for so many years, for me, it’s simply part of the game.
“The under 16s play their semi on Saturday and it’ll be interesting to see who comes out of that unscathed that we can use.”
Lyon is considered a better chance to play, having featured in the semi-final – though she “hasn’t really trained” since, Martinello said.
That’s music to the ears of Hanwood coach Daniel Johnson, who believes Lyon must be shut down for his side to have any chance.
“For me, it starts with Raechel. She’s unbelievable, an absolute beast, a class player – probably the best in the league,” he said.
“If we can stop her, that’s 50 per cent of the job done. Shut her down and it stops their best players.”
Hanwood’s Alex Clebsch, who finished third behind Barbaro and Yenda’s Renae Foggiato in the competition’s golden boot race, is battling an ankle injury – but aside from her, Johnson said HFC would have all hands on deck.
“YSC’s had the wood on us this year, but we know we’re a chance if we play at our best. We’re looking forward to it,” he said.