Marathon grand finale
When people recall extra-time thrillers, Luke Shuey’s goal after the siren on Saturday which sent West Coast into tonight’s semifinal might come to mind.
But at Shepparton Netball Association’s courts earlier in the day a classic was unfolding in the 15-and-under section 3 grand final.
Tatura took on Goulburn Valley Grammar School in a match which went into an unprecedented level of time on.
With scores close throughout the entire game, the match was drawn at 28-all at the end of regular time.
Sent into a block of 14 minutes of extra time with a brief break in the middle, again the teams could not be split.
While players were exhausted at that point, the marathon effort was only just starting.
To decide the match, either team would have to pull ahead by two goals during an indefinite time period.
For the two sides, it would be 32 minutes until that feat was reached, with the play flowing continuously and no time allowed for a breather or a drinks break.
To end the ordeal, Tatura’s Chloe Wereszczuk sunk her side’s 41st goal of the day but players needed a few seconds to realise the match was finished.
Bulldogs coach Sandy Witham said both sides did exceptionally well to play 106 minutes of netball.
‘‘It was just pandemonium after we’d won, but due respect to all the girls, they played their heart out and everyone was fatigued but it was just an epic atmosphere,’’ she said.
‘‘The girls were fatigued, affecting their concentration on the day and they did good to all play like they did after already playing 74 minutes of netball and then go for another 32.
‘‘Anybody could have won and we wouldn’t have been disappointed if we’d lost after an effort like that.’’
With presentations for the other grand finals in the same time slot on hold until the match ended, players milled around the court to watch the incredible match unfold.
‘‘There were two other Tat teams playing and they were quite excited because they were watching and other people were coming across so the atmosphere for those girls at that level was unbelievable . . . there was a fair amount of cheering and yelling,’’ Witham said.
In the midst of the celebrations, Ashiiah Rogerson injured her knee, resulting in her sitting in the wheelchair for the team photo.
Wereszczuk, 14, was captain for the side on the day and said on court it did not feel like more than half an hour of consistent paying.
‘‘As you were going it didn’t seem that long . . . I think it was because of the determination and how much we wanted it that pushed us through in the end,’’ she said.
When the final goal sailed through the net, Wereszczuk needed confirmation it was the sealer.
‘‘When I shot it I thought we’d won, but I wasn’t really sure, so when the umpire put up their hand (to signal) that it was the end of the game it was a massive relief,’’ she said.
‘‘We were absolutely buggered, we’d been working a lot on fitness throughout the year so it really helped out in the end.’’