St Mary’s Gold has booked its place in the premier grade final.
The team beat Ex High Black 32-21 in its semifinal on Saturday in an empty MLT Event Centre.
It is the second year in a row St Mary’s has made the final and it will face reigning champion Ex High Red.
Making the final was the aim from the “get-go”, coach Anna Stiven said.
“They’ve worked really hard to make that final.
“They have played really well all year, with a few lapses, but they’ve been consistent which is good.”
Ex High Red was a classy side and St Mary’s would need to keep possession in order to take it to the titleholder.
“They’ve got some very very strong defenders . . . we need to make sure put the ball where they can’t intercept and pressure right through court to force them to make mistakes.”
St Mary’s created a good platform off its win against Ex High Black.
Its midcourt zone was effective and left few options for Ex High Black.
Ex High defenders Shannon Morton and Jamie O’Neill worked together to cut off the baseline drivers from St Mary’s shooters.
However, the transition of St Mary’s from attack into defence was slick and put pressure on immediately.
Wing defence Brinly Weller was a key link bringing the ball down the court and helped her side lead 15-9 at the half.
It was in the third quarter when St Mary’s was really able to pull away.
The side went on a streak of seven unanswered goals and set the platform for the win.
St Mary’s achieved width on the ball, moving into the outer channels, but was always able to straighten it through court.
Ex High centre Jess Cairns was steady in the middle and provided solid options on the circle edge.
Goal attack Eden Millan slotted from wing attack to goal attack in the third quarter and finished with 78% accuracy.
Ex High coach Chris Karena said her side was resilient throughout and defended well.
“They were strong and fought through .. the defenders turned over a bit of ball,” she said.
“I’m really proud of them.”
She felt it was the team’s ball placement on attack that gave the ball to St Mary’s.
Ex High came back strongly in the final quarter.
It would now play off for third and fourth against St Peter’s A.
“They’ve come a long way over the last couple of years.”