Emotional scenes followed Echuca-Moama’s A-grade Goulburn Valley Hockey Association win against Mooroopna.
The tears did not just come from sheer relief after being on the right end of a penalty shootout, but because it was the River Rats’ inaugural A-grade win in the competition.
Veteran player Tina Kerr transferred to Echuca-Moama this year after moving from Shepparton and, while having experienced success in the past, said Saturday was a special moment.
‘‘I’ve won a few A-grade finals with SYC, but this was probably up there with one of the best ones, there were tears of joy and all the works from the girls,’’ Kerr said.
She said there were long-serving members of the side that had been through the tough losses, but some youthful spirit helped the side over the line on Saturday.
‘‘Those girls have been pipped at the post, either making the grand final and not playing their best or losing their semis and this year we knew that if we were going to win a final it was this year because we’ve got awesome young players,’’ Kerr said.
One of those talents is teenager Keeley Thompson who received the most valuable player award, while goalkeeper Erin Thompson was exceptional under pressure.
The match finished at 4-all, despite the River Rats moving to as much as 3-1 up before the Cats staged a fightback and tried to take out the title after finishing top of the ladder.
‘‘Deep down I hoped and hoped it wouldn’t go to penalties as they’re not my favourite thing,’’ Kerr said.
‘‘During the game I never thought we were losing and the game got to penalties, but I still had confidence in the young girls in the team and we’d practiced penalties on Thursday night (at training).
‘‘As nervous as Erin was, and she thought she might die afterwards, I just had this confidence that we could do it ... she was absolutely awesome and we could not have done it without her.’’
The River Rats hit the back of the net three times in the penalty shootout with Mooroopna only managing one from the same amount of shots.
Kerr said there were a host of players that were vital contributors to the win, including Jorgie Wright.
‘‘Wright was in and out with injury throughout the year, but she was probably the one that jelled us together and lifted everyone up,’’ Kerr said.