It's only mid-point of the season, but South Coast Flame U16 girls are already on the brink of fresh history as they edge towards a maiden finals berth.
Should they reach the Football NSW Youth League 2 finals, it would be a first for the region's newest representative club set up as a pathway for the region's best young players to reach the highest level.
After a shaky start to the season, the Flame hit form in round six and have been on fire ever since, a narrow loss to heavyweights Central Coast Mariners FC the only blemish on their record in the past seven weeks.
A draw with Hills United is the closest they've come to a second defeat recently, with coach Lachlan Raymond incredibly proud of his side's improvement throughout this year.
It leaves him confident the Flame can continue its finals charge over the remainder of the season.
"In terms of what this group can achieve together, I think they have shown that they can compete with some of the strongest football programs in the state," Raymond said.
"Eight of the sixteen players in this team are playing above their age group which is a testament to the work they put into pursuing something they are so passionate about."
It's a sentiment echoed by captain Kaitlyn Elsner, with her side knocking on the door of a top four finish with 12 games remaining.
"All of the girls have stepped up their game and are putting in extraordinary amounts of effort, especially with their commitment to the team," she said.
Vice-captain Caitlin Loudon has proven revelation in front of goal, with 10 goals in 13 outings. It's an impressive stat, with Loudon crediting the Flames culture for making her feel welcome from the jump in her first year with the club.
"With such a positive group of girls and such an inspiring and motivating coach, my season began with all the inspiration needed," she said.
Currently four points outside the top four, the Flame's finals hopes hinge on a tough run that sees them face top-four side competitors Sutherland and UNSW in the next fortnight.
With another huge clash with Mt Druitt looming before the season's out, it shapes as a make-or-break stretch for the Flames hopes of a first-ever finals berth.
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