WARRNAMBOOL Rangers women’s side will fly into the grand final on a high after constructing a magnificent come-from-behind victory in the Ballarat and District Soccer Association preliminary final.
The reigning premiers were 2-nil down at half-time against Ballarat, but three second-half goals, including two in the last three minutes, secured a 3-2 win at the Morshead Stadium pitch on Saturday night.
Captain Raya Rantall said the game felt much closer than the scoreline suggested at the break, but her team’s ability to lift when they’re down again came to the fore.
“When we were 2-nil down at half-time, I think we played fairly well,” she said.
“(But) we weren’t getting our passes in.
“We thought, ‘we’ve just got to try to keep at it. We’ve just got to go in and fight hard. Somehow, we never really start the game off to the best of our ability – we usually let in a goal earlier in the game … but as soon as that happens, we’re taking big breaths and we seem to settle down.”
Young jet Chloe Paredes found the back of the net in the 63rd minute, and against in the 87th.
“She’s just amazing … she always takes the role on well,” Rantall said.
“She just runs nonstop.
“She got two goals and Isobel Stewart got the last goal and it was in the last 40 seconds – we thought we were going to extra time.”
It was a big weekend for Stewart, who was named league best and fairest for the second year running, holding off Sebastopol’s Daniela Weinreich by a vote.
Rantall said a number of the Rangers players finished high in what was a very close vote count.
Meanwhile, it is season over for Warrnambool Rangers division one men’s team, which went down to North Ballarat United 2-3 in their preliminary final.
The Rangers conceded three goals in the first 24 minutes of the game, but fought back to get two goals on the board before half-time. But a scoreless second half saw the Rangers bow out of finals.
“We dug ourselves a bit of a hole early,” coach Cameron Pyke said.
“We gave it a red hot crack, and unfortunately couldn’t get the win.
“We probably were the better side for about 75 minutes of the game, it’s just unfortunate that in that bit where we weren’t good, we were pretty bad.”
Josh Bourke scored the Rangers’ first goal in the 40th minute, while captain Isaac Slater scored the second in the 46th minute.
Slater also finished runner-up in the division one men’s best and fairest count, Ryan Bail finished fifth and Pyke 10th in what was a strong result for the team.