NSW WOMEN'S PREMIER LEAGUE
Illawarra Stingrays succumbed to a star-studded Marconi line-up in yesterday's NSW Women's Premier League grand final.
After heading into the decider as heavy underdogs, the Rays couldn't match it for 90 minutes, going down 5-1 to the powerful Matilda-laced Marconi squad.
"It is hard when you are playing against a great team and you don't have your team that you have had all year out there," Stingrays captain Michelle Carney said.
"The girls that come up did the job and did well, but we came up against top quality and if we made mistakes we got punished. We were playing good football; it was just that final pass wasn't getting through. If those balls went through it would have been a different game."
Despite the Stallions' strong starting line-up, Illawarra solidly in the contest midway through the first half with the scores locked 1-1.
Jordan Baker had brought the Stingrays level, but Marconi went into the break with a 2-1 lead, after pouncing on a defensive mistake just before the half.
"I don't think the half-time scoreline really reflected the game," Carney said.
"I think a draw - at least - would have been fair.
"In the second half, it was a bit of inexperience and then nothing went right for us. They just kept rolling on."
The Stallions ramped up their attack in the second half to score a hat-trick of goals and shut out Illawarra in the process.
After the series of counter-attacking goals, Marconi ran out comfortable victors, but that didn't change Carney's glowing opinion of her squad.
"I am so proud of them. We finished on the same points on the table after all year and only lost to them on goal difference against quality opponents who are Matildas. For us just to finish on equal points is a tremendous effort and I can't ask for any more."