WARRNAMBOOL Rangers have bowed out of Ballarat and District Soccer Asso-ciation (BDSA) finals in straight sets.
A 2-0 preliminary final defeat at the hands of North United at Ballarat’s Morshead Park on Sunday condemned the Rangers to a frustrating finals exit.
Second-half goals from Tim Beggs and Kyle Cushion lifted North to victory in a match Warrnambool barely created a chance.
North will take on Ballarat — which beat Warrnambool on penalties a week earlier — in the grand final at Morshead Park on Saturday.
Warrnambool coach Nick van Rooy said his men had the lion’s share of possession in the midfield but struggled to create chances.
“We didn’t get outplayed. We had the majority of possession but we couldn’t do anything with it,” he said.
“We had one of those off weeks and unfortunately it was the preliminary final. The team was flat.
“That was the worst thing that could’ve happened. Maybe the travel finally caught up with it.
“After 22 matches, to have one off game is frustrating but it happens.”
Van Rooy said he hoped the defeat would not overshadow the Rangers’ feat of winning their first league title by finishing on top.
They won 17 of 20 matches during the regular season before faltering on the finals stage. Had they converted a host of chances a week earlier against Ballarat — and won direct passage to the grand final — the story could have been much different.
“Performances are judged from all the year and I’ve had other coaches come up and say how far Warrnambool has come this year,” van Rooy said.
“And I do feel Warrnambool has come a long way. If we keep the same group of players together next year, it will be an interesting year.
“It’s something to look forward to. All of them seem pretty keen to stick around.”
The defeat was one of two Warrnambool suffered on BDSA preliminary final day at Morshead Park on Saturday.
The Rangers’ women’s side suffered a 3-0 loss to North United Black. Jessica Dart and Chloe Cameron put North up 2-0 at half-time before Cameron grabbed a third after the interval.
Coach Jim Gray said he was proud of what the side had achieved this season, having lost the elimination final 12 months ago.
“I’m really sad for the girls because we had high expectations and we thought we could take it up to them,” he said.
Gray said he believed the side had improved since coming together for round one.