Heron heroics help Majos to title after shootout
SOCCER: The dominant Majos Newcastle Permanent Women's 2nd Division North side have emerged with the silverware after a gruelling grand final against Westlawn Tigers which was decided on penalties.
The Tigers were first to strike in regular time, taking full advantage of a lion's share of possession in the early stages of the clash. A picture perfect through ball from young Eilish Bender was enough to get striker Gabby Marshall one-on-one with Majos keeper Mariechen Heron and the Tigers cub was good enough to put the ball into the back of the net.
The Tigers took advantage of their one-goal breathing space and went to work shutting down any potential Majos' attacking raids. While Majos came close with a few shots from distance, the minor premiers never looked likely to crack their opposition with the sides heading to the break at 1-0.
But it was a rejuvenated Majos in the second half who toiled hard on goal to eventually find an equaliser when Katelyn Ferguson managed to toe the ball through traffic into the back of the net, setting up a thrilling final 20 minutes.
The two evenly matched sides looked for any slight advantage over their opposition but it was not forthcoming, and after 30 minutes of extra time couldn't split the sides, it was left to a penalty shootout to decide the premiership.
While both sides went goal for goal at the dot it was a moment of split-second heroics from Majos' brickwall between the sticks Heron, who managed to deflect Renee McLelland's shot to claim the North Coast Football title.
"The emotions are pretty mixed, but I'm glad we did it,” Heron said after the game. "We did it the hard way this game, but I am just so glad we came out on top. Full credit to the Westlawn girls; they really gave it their all and it was a great game.
"I was so nervous going into the penalty shootout, but once I had my mind right I knew we could do it. That last penalty I was always going to go right, I tried to see where she was eyeing off more, and once I flicked it away I knew it was all over.”
"(This year) has been something special. We have picked up these girls from all over to come to Majos. Majority of us are family and we wanted to get one season together before some of the older ones retire. But to come out and win the grand final just tops it all.”
While the initial pain was etched across all the Tigers' faces, coach Jo Powell said her charges should hold their heads high after a proud season.
"It was great end to end footy,” she said. "It is a shame it had to come to a shootout but that is the nature of the beast and the ball just didn't fall for us. Congratulations to Majos.
"When the team started out this year I didn't have any expectations. We hit our straps early and really put it together and next year we will be a force to be reckoned with.
"We have always had something to prove but this loss just gives us something more to aim for next year.”