Penalty pain haunts Vic

ANYTHING but penalties.

You could forgive the Victoria Hotel side if those three words have been ringing in their heads, on repeat, all week long.

The Vic will play in another Griffith Hockey Association women’s grand final tomorrow against Easts Flavourtech at West End Oval, and the hope is this time it doesn’t end in heartbreak.

Having qualified for the last four grand finals – only to lose them all on penalties – skipper Louise McGrail is understandably keen to settle this one in regulation time, rather than being forced into the lottery of a shootout.

“To get that close, and for it to come down to those five shots, and we miss each time ... it’s shattering,” said McGrail, who featured in all but one of those grand finals.

“Everyone was stoked when we made it again the other week, because we didn’t start the season too well – we had to make a comeback. But we don’t want to make the finals and then have penalties again.”

If it comes to it, a full-strength Vic side has done a little extra practice from the spot this week – although the 4-1 win over Easts in the semi has filled them with confidence they can get it done long before that. Easts captain Kate Crosato, whose side overcame Griffith Retirement Estate 1-0 on Saturday to set up the rematch, is keen to spoil the party.

“They’re a strong team but we’ve got a good record against them,” she said. 

“It’s always been close between us this year but we’ve been playing well, and consistently.

“They’ve got some players we’ll need to watch really closely but we’ve basically just got to control the ball, create chances and man up in defence, and we’ll be a chance.”

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A GRAND final rematch from last year awaits Total Creations and Easts Flavourtech in the men’s grand final, which will also be played tomorrow.

Back when they were known by a different name, Total Creations picked up a 1-0 win over Easts but will go into the clash without two key players.

Josh Ryan and James Schmidli will not take any part in the fixture, leaving captain Mark McLean to formulate some alternative tactical plans.

“We’ll still have a pretty good side but they’re handy players. 

“It’s not the end of the world but would have been nice to have them,” he said.

“We’re probably a little more undermanned than what I would have liked, but we’re still in pretty reasonable shape.”

Total Creations took out the minor premiership but fell to Easts in the major semi-final. However, McLean said he was not worried by that recent defeat.

“Four of our major quicks were out so that didn’t help at all. We didn’t have our strongest team by any means, so that’s not something I’m concerned about,” he said.

Fortunately for Total Creations,  their opponents – who overcame Hanwood Butchery 2-1 in last week’s elimination final –will also be missing some big names in the form of Evan Pocock and Lindsay Gullifer, who are unavailable.

“These things happen and we can’t do much about it,” Easts skipper Kym Ramsey said.

“We can’t do much about that – we’ll just plug away. We’ve had a few games we’ve been short this year, so we know how to cope.

“Both teams know each other really well, we’ve both been up there for a few years and know what it takes.

“They’ve got a really strong midfield – that’s their big strength. They’re quick, with a few young guys that run through really well. From our point of view we have to keep it away from them as much as we can.”

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