THE Echuca senior women’s football side’s inaugural campaign is over after a close loss to Shepparton Bears in Sunday’s semi final.
The Murray Bombers fought hard all day to stay with the strong Bears line-up, but couldn’t score enough to take the win.
Jessica Pitts starred up forward with four of the side’s five goals, but the Bears dominated with 15 scoring shots to eight to get across the line.
Echuca coach Mick McInnes said he was satisfied with his side’s effort against a quality side.
‘‘The end result was not what I expected, I thought we’d get over the line,’’ he said.
‘‘We had a couple of players back in, but it was a very intense, very physical game. To get so close after they beat us by 30 points two weeks prior, I was pretty happy with that in the end but I’m disappointed we couldn’t go on further.’’
A tight game throughout, Shepparton went to the half two goals ahead, with wasteful kicking (3.7) costing them a chance to build a more comfortable margin.
But Echuca wouldn’t let its season die without a fight with two goals in the third quarter to Pitts seeing the side down just seven points at the final break.
Rebecca Bowles goaled early in the last for the Bears for a 13-point lead, but Sally Beach pulled one back for the Murray Bombers to have them just seven points down with 10 minutes to play.
But the Shepparton defence held strong for a 5.10 (40) to 5.3 (33) win, the Bears moving forward to face Benalla in this weekend’s preliminary final.
McInnes couldn’t point to a particular area that really separated the two sides.
‘‘You probably couldn’t pick anywhere because it was such an even contest, there was only six points or seven points in it for the whole game,’’ he said.
‘‘There wasn’t one area where you’d think ‘gee we were bad there’; in general it was just a tough game.’’
Chrystal Baker excelled at centre-half-back, with Echuca’s midfield again performing well led by Kate Dixon.
Jessica Grundy was Echuca’s best, with Danielle Garden and Kym Mundie other standouts.
Looking back on the maiden campaign, McInnes was proud of his side’s progression.
‘‘Starting off the first night of training, we probably had 20 girls turn up and 10 of them had probably never played sport before let alone footy,’’ he said.
‘‘So to make the finals, or even just win a game was a huge achievement. To make the finals was a big achievement and it can only get bigger next year.
‘‘With our full side on the park I thought we could nearly get to the grand final. To sum up the year, we’re not going to be disappointed with that, these things happen and generally it’s been an exciting year.’’
Building depth is a priority for the Murray Bombers, and McInnes’ message was for anyone interested in the side to get involved.
‘‘We’ll be looking for more girls; obviously we’ll probably have a couple of girls not come back and hopefully we can pick up some girls with a bit of experience,’’ he said.
‘‘But saying that, the girls that hadn’t played before have really improved and if we can just build on that we’ll be even better again.’’