ECHUCA United have climbed what many considered the unclimbable mountain after defeating Moama 35-33 in the Murray Netball League grand final.
Heading into the game, the Mowers were widely tipped to make it three straight A grade premierships but the Eagles determination drove them to the promise land.
When United stretched their lead to six goals at the halfway point of the third term, it looked like they would run away with the contest.
But as Moama always do, they clawed their way back into the contest – until a last quarter surge in the dying minutes put United just out of the Magpies reach.
The final siren sparked wild scenes of celebrations as players, officials and supporters joined in for a resounding rendition of the club’s song.
“Elation is the overarching emotion,” United coach Lisa Drysdale said.
“It was the fourth time we’ve played them this year and sometimes you’ve got to lose against a team to know how to beat them.
“When we lost the first final, we went back to the drawing board and walked through everything to make sure we were on the same page.
“Everyone gave it their best shot and we knew our best was always going to be good enough to beat them.”
United’s pressure was unlike anything they had previously produced this year – consistently getting in the face of Moama when they had the ball.
“In their defence, Moama probably haven’t played under intense pressure for an extended periods for a lot of the year because they have been the dominant force.
“But once they have the pressure on them it’s amazing how the players have to adjust. We’ve played under pressure and faulted before.
“But this time we played under pressure and were able to come through it.
“Our starts this year had been appalling in the hard games and now it was the perfect time to turn it around.”
When the game wasn’t been played on United’s terms, rotations were made from the bench and they worked just about every time.
“My co-coach Trinity Keath and I are on song in regards to what changes we need to make and I thought we got them right again.
“We look at each other and just know, which gives you a lot of confidence.
“Having girls with an ability to make an impact off the bench speaks volumes of the depth we’ve had this year.”
While United won the game from the bench, it was their skills with the ball which proved crucial.
Just as they had done a week earlier against Rumbalara, the Eagles relied on their short and sharp ball movement to move their way up the court.
“When we played short and sharp it felt like we were well and truly in control of the contest.
“If there was a long ball, it was ambiguous, and we didn’t have control over the situation. The little things we did just really paid off.”
As United celebrated, Moama were left to think what might have been – an indicator of how quickly sport can turn in a 12-month period.
“We’re really shattered,” co-coach Daly said.
“United really came to play and were the better team. We know we’ve been the team to beat for the last three years so it is a disappointing way to end.”