CELEBRATIONS quickly turned to preparations for the Warrnambool Rangers on Sunday.
Just hours after the champagne corks were popped to toast finishing on top of the ladder and claiming the club’s first Ballarat District Soccer Association league title, the focus turned to preparations for its finals campaign.
The Rangers started the day with 48 points, two ahead of second-placed Ballarat, and ensured there would be no last-round slip-up with a comfortable 3-0 win over Vic Park.
Corrie Shields connected with Nick van Rooy’s long throw-in to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead before Martin van Rooy made it 2-0 before half-time by capitalising on a goal-mouth scramble.
Josh Bourke slotted the third shortly after the interval, after some stellar lead-up work from Dylan Johnstone, to all but wrap up the points.
The Rangers will play Ballarat in the first semi-final on Sunday afternoon.
The winner will progress directly to the grand final, while the loser will play either Vic Park or North United in a preliminary final.
Rangers coach Nick Van Rooy said it was a huge thrill to claim the minor premiership.
“The past two seasons we have been close to finishing on top, but haven’t quite got there,” he said.
“We have the opportunity now to take the premiership. That would be a dream end to the season.”
Van Rooy said the focus was now on winning a second consecutive premiership title.
“We want the win on Sunday to get that week off,” he said.
“The past couple of years we have won through to the grand final the hard way, so we are chasing a win to get the week off to relax a bit and go in fresh.”
Van Rooy said the Rangers were looking fit heading into the finals, and would possibly regain a couple of players.
“There may be a couple of changes, but we will have to wait and see,” he said.
Van Rooy said the Rangers were looking for a win this week against second-placed Ballarat and were expecting a challenge.
“We’ve had two wins and two losses against them. They are a solid and physical team who always throw down a challenge, but we’re confident,” he said.
“We’ve just got to keep playing the type of football we have been over the past few weeks.”