Woolgoolga Wildcats celebrate winning the women’s grand final at BCU International Stadium.
Woolgoolga Wildcats celebrate winning the women’s grand final at BCU International Stadium. Trevor Veale

Wildcats break title drought

AFTER leading the women's first division premiership for the entire season, Woolgoolga was just one minute away from seeing their dominance amount to nothing.

Coffs United looked certain to claim back-to-back titles when it led Woolgoolga 1-0 with only a minute remaining in Saturday night's grand final.

That was until Woolgoolga's Keely Thompson made a desperate run down the right wing and crossed a ball into the box for one last attempt at an equaliser.

Striker Jasmin Courtenay had worked toward the near post and scored to tear the heart out of the Lionesses players who had given their all, particularly in the second half when they were forced to defend stoutly.

The Wildcats created nine shots on goal in the second half to dominate possession and territory but it wasn't until the match was in its death throes that Woolgoolga was able to turn one of those opportunities into a goal.

Courtenay's strike was a killer blow to Coffs United's morale and the Wildcats were able to claim its first title in 15 years by scoring three unanswered goals in the 30 minutes of extra time needed to decide this year's premier.

Within two minutes of the resumption, Jessie Gentle went on a scything run through the Lionesses' defence to give Woolgoolga the lead with a tremendous solo goal.

Early in the second period of extra time another piece of hard work by Thompson down the right side created another goal for Courtenay before Ashli Deane provided the finishing touch with Woolgoolga's fourth goal.

Coffs United captain Rachel McVicar, who scored the Lionesses goal in the 36th minute from a corner, was disappointed that premiership glory was taken away from the girls in the most dramatic of circumstances.

"We probably should've played it a bit safer in the last minute but we don't play that type of football, we play an attacking style," McVicar said.

"We were keen to get out there and score another goal."

While Coffs United was naturally disappointed, the Woolgoolga girls couldn't contain their excitement at breaking the club's long-standing premiership drought.

Wildcats captain Kim Batty, who was a member of Woolgoolga's 1996 premiership winning team, said the long wait for another grand final win was worth it.

"I've been in this comp for 19 years and to finally win another grand final is awesome," Batty said.

"I don't think we're going to bed tonight and we're having a Mad Monday on Sunday."

Both captains agreed that the woodwork was one of Woolgoolga's best players as it saved a couple of Coffs scoring opportunities throughout the contest.

That said, Batty added that the feeling of winning in such thrilling circumstances was one of relief.

"Oh my god, that was just amazing," she said.

"We never say die but it was getting close with only a minute to go but we just managed it, we came through."

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