Under 19 Grand Final Review
By Britt Goldsmith
St Kilda City 6.10 (46) def by Oakleigh District 9.6 (60)
Oakleigh District have defied all odds in their momentous victory over three-peat hopefuls St Kilda City in the Southern Football Netball Leagues’ Under 19 Grand Final on Sunday.
The forceful, top-ranked St Kilda City were hot favourites in this match, with a 16-2 winning record for the season and a positive history when faced with fifth-placers Oakleigh District.
A strong wind favouring the eastern end of the ground either wreaked havoc or was a serious advantage for sides in this match, with no goals scored for the Under 19s at the pavilion end. On an otherwise sunny day, the wind in fact ensure only two goals were scored at the western end across the Division One Reserve, Under 19, and Division One Reserve Grand Finals.
Both sides were fired up and fierce in warm up, with Oakleigh District’s vocal presence before the first bounce a solid indicator they would leave nothing in the tank as they embarked on an unlikely challenge against an intimidating opponent.
The first term saw St Kilda control possession of the ball, however were ineffective with two early points. After Oakleigh were able to shake off initial nerves, they were able to take charge, with eventual Barnes Medallist Anthony Lucarelli kick-starting his best on ground performance with the opening goal of the game.
In a remarkable beginning for underdogs Oakleigh, a free kick against St Kilda before the ball returned to restart play after Lucarelli’s goal saw two goals scored to none in a matter of minutes. From here, Oakleigh’s confidence surged as they led 15-2 at the first break.
A reinvigorated City returned in the second term, kicking 2.4 and kept Oakleigh quiet to 0.1, but an inability to inflict serious damage at the scoring end of the ground proved costly, and was a credit to Oakleigh’s solid defence. With two points separating the sides at half time, it was difficult for anyone to envision whose hands the silver hardware would land in.
The premiership quarter lived up to its name as sides returned to the field after the main break, with Oakleigh ravaging City in a devastating scoring effort, booting 7.1 to 0.1. Brett Crane turned the field into a playground with three goals to his name, and St Kilda’s attempts to break through their forward 50 were simply denied by Oakleigh’s back man Dylan Duffield.
Trailing by 40 points going into the final term, a comeback appeared impossible for City, but an inspiring goal from captain Oliver Woods sparked a major shift in momentum for his side. Here, City’s trademark and relentless defensive pressure from throughout the year made a return, and midfielder Ubil Chol was dynamic as his side booted a significant 4.3 to Oakleigh’s 0.1.
Oakleigh were kept on their toes as City’s best Jackson Vargas and Dominic Hale did their best to lead their side in pulling off the impossible, however, time was not on their side as the siren stopped their potential fairy tale in its tracks, as an ecstatic Oakleigh celebrated in triumphant glee.
Oakleigh’s unlikely dominance throughout the majority of the game effectively shocked last years’ premiers in this match. An undying attitude and outstanding finals run from outside of the top four is a display of the winner’s true grit and resilience, and has been well awarded by the competition’s ultimate prize.
Congratulations to Oakleigh District, the Southern Football Netball League’s Under 19 Premiers of 2017.
Goal Kickers: B. Crane 3, L. McCabe 2, C. Casset 2, N. Cramer, A. Lucarelli
Best Players: A. Lucarelli, D. Spence, Z. Nelthropp, C. Casset, B. Crane, S. Bonacci
ST KILDA CITY
Goal Kickers: O. Woods 2, J. Sujaini, D. Mc Gorm, K. McMillan, U. Chol
Best Players: J. Vargas, D. Hale, S. Wood, O. Woods, F. Addi, F. Addi