Dragons progress to grand fi­nals

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - GAZETTE SPORT -

Drouin Dragons Soc­cer Club trav­elled to Leon­gatha on Sunday for the first semi fi­nal of the Gipp­s­land Soc­cer League.

With three of the Dragon’s ju­nior teams fin­ish­ing on top of the home and away sea­son, a spot in the grand fi­nal was on the line.

Leon­gatha Knights Soc­cer Club had worked hard on the pitches over the past month and provided a great play­ing sur­face to host the semi.

Un­for­tu­nately the weather wasn’t kind, with strong winds pro­vid­ing a two-goal ad­van­tage to one end and rain com­ing down dur­ing the un­der 14s match. Un­der 16s The Drouin un­der 16s lost the toss and played against the wind in the first half.

With de­ter­mi­na­tion, they still man­aged to score a few goals in the first half of the game by keeping the ball low and mov­ing the ball around.

The sec­ond half saw quite a few goals scored with the as­sis­tance from the wind.

Coach John Er­coles put Lach­lan Brown up for­ward as he was the only player on the team to not kick a goal in 2018. The move paid off with Lach­lan scor­ing three goals.

The un­der 16s won by 12 goals and move into the grand fi­nal against the winner of the sec­ond semi fi­nal, which will ei­ther be Phillip Is­land or Leon­gatha. Score: Drouin 12 – Ko­rum­burra nil. Un­der 12s The Drouin Dragons un­der 12s came up against a highly tal­ented and well-drilled Phillip Is­land.

The ju­niors from Drouin came out fir­ing from the start and kept the pres­sure up for­ward.

If it wasn’t for the skilled Phillip Is­land goal­keeper, Drouin would have been up by a few goals in the first half.

Drouin played the sec­ond half of the game with the strong wind be­hind their backs and took ad­vice from the coach at half time on how to play with the wind.

The ad­vice paid off im­me­di­ately with a goal scored in the first few min­utes. Score: 3–2 to Drouin. The next 20 min­utes was tight with mul­ti­ple scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties at both ends, then Drouin man­aged to score an­other one with five min­utes to go in the game. Score: Drouin 4 - Phillip Is­land 2. Un­der 14s Even though Drouin Dragons un­der 14s had fin­ished the sea­son un­beaten, the Drouin coach had been say­ing all year that Mir­boo North were the dan­ger side in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Hav­ing fin­ished fourth in a tight top half of the lad­der, Mir­boo North have a tal­ented bunch of ju­niors that are well coached.

With a large con­tin­gent of par­ents, play­ers and coaches watch­ing the game, Drouin won the toss and played with the wind be­hind their backs, scor­ing three goals to nil in the first half.

The Mir­boo North de­fence put plenty of pres­sure on the Drouin for­wards, do­ing well to keep them to only three goals.

Af­ter half time and with Drouin play­ing into the wind, Mir­boo North scored three goals to nil in the first 15 min­utes to level the scores.

It had looked like it was go­ing to rain all day and the rain ar­rived dur­ing the sec­ond half, which didn’t dis­cour­age the play­ers or the par­ents on the side­lines.

The last 10 min­utes of the sec­ond half saw Mir­boo North pep­per­ing the goals with the wind, how­ever the Drouin Dragons goal­keeper and the Dragons de­fence held strong. Fi­nal score three all. Both team’s re­grouped be­fore the start of a 10-minute time on with five min­utes for each half.

To the credit of Mir­boo and Drouin, both teams stepped it up a notch with a grand fi­nal spot up for grabs.

How­ever, nei­ther team could score af­ter time on which meant a penalty shootout.

With only the goal­keeper and striker in the goal area, the rest of the two teams lined up on the half way line and the ever-in­creas­ing crowd watch­ing from the side­lines, the im­mense pres­sure was on for those in­volved.

By this time the rain was now con­stant, how­ever the spec­ta­tors weren’t go­ing any­where and af­ter 20 min­utes of heart stop­ping mo­ments, Drouin Dragons won the shootout seven goals to six.

Ei­ther team could have won on the day with the ju­niors giv­ing it ev­ery­thing they had with quite a few ex­hausted play­ers (and par­ents) af­ter the game.

The Drouin Dragons un­der 16 girls play in the sec­ond semi fi­nal this week at In­ver­loch, hav­ing fin­ished sec­ond on the lad­der.

Drouin Dragons are host­ing a Football Fed­er­a­tion Vic­to­ria ref­eree course on Tues­day night at Bell­bird Park, while the se­nior pre­sen­ta­tion is on Septem­ber 15 at the Royal Ho­tel in Drouin.

To cel­e­brate the 2018 Gipp­s­land Soc­cer League Sea­son, the pre­sen­ta­tion night is on Fri­day Septem­ber 14 with Drouin Dragons tak­ing home three league cham­pi­ons tro­phies from fin­ish­ing on top of the lad­der.

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