By JARROD POTTER
VWFL DIVISION 3 – PRELIMINARY FINAL
IT STUNG on Sunday.
It will probably hurt for the next few weeks.
But once the pain dies down from Endeavour Hills’ preliminary final defeat at the hands of Deer Park, the side should be able to look back pretty happily on some amazing achievements in its inaugural VWFL season.
The Falcons – which was little more than an idea between Endeavour Hills committee members in July last year – flourished into two teams that both made finals while the Division 3 team went even better to go undefeated throughout the 2015 home-and-away season.
They weren’t even meant to join the league this year – initially the Falcons were told to get their affairs in order and wait until 2016.
Instead they formed two sides and the first team won 14 games in a row to claim the minor premiership.
But in some aspects the Falcons’ soaring regular season proved part of its downfall – the true challenges only came in finals and it was too late to adapt thereafter.
The Falcons weren’t able to battle back against the Lions on Sunday afternoon in the preliminary final as the pressure came in waves.
Deer Park’s rebounding work out of defence was solid and kept Endeavour Hills off balance.
A one-goal-to-four opening half left the Falcons badly behind the play and on the VFL-sized oval, the play didn’t move rapidly enough to create enough chances.
Sarah Wallace, Rebecca Sherry and Georgia Punton all provided a target up forward while Sarah Punton, Sarah Beattie, the beaten-and-bruised Jess Xerri and captain Maria Pickering all battled gallantly through the midfield.
While the 17-point loss on Sunday at Frankston Oval left the Falcons’ change rooms a fairly sombre environment, coach Mark Haughton was able to reflect on the success of the season rather than its abrupt end.
“It was tough – all through the early days we were told we couldn’t have a side this year and we should aim for 2016,” Haughton said.
“Then we had girls left over, but we couldn’t have the second side and yet they’ve finished third and fourth in the first year.
“Probably only the second week of February it was all official and six months down the track we had two teams finish in finals.
“Making friends, meeting some great people and working with these two (assistant coaches Nic Buxton and Marcus Kleinert) and starting something that will be long-lasting within the community makes us very proud.”
2016 looms on the horizon in a positive way for the Falcons’ women, who are set to benefit from a much easier progression through the pre-season and now they know where the peak of local football is and how to get back there.
“Culture is everything and I said to the girls the culture is formed based upon how we react to the difficult times and here is one,” Haughton said. “We’ve had the normal issues that every football club has and we’ve made the tough choices, some coaches said to me it was too hard to do this work … but we’ve started to turn over this great culture and we’re getting calls from girls who want to come down to an inclusive environment – everyone is valued and welcome.
“Next year we’re excited because we hit the ground running with everything already in place – there’s no struggle.”
VWFL PRELIMINARY FINAL
ENDEAVOUR HILLS 0.1 1.1 2.2 3.3 (21)
DEER PARK 3.4 4.4 5.7 5.8 (38)
Goals: S. Wallace, R. Sherry, G. Punton.
Best: S. Punton, G. Punton, C. Rogers, S. Beattie, J. Xerri, M. Pickering.