Ballarat Lady Devils claimed a grand final spot after a nail-biting penalty shoot-out in a semi-final against Altona City in Altona on Sunday.
Scores were drawn one-allR at full-time and level three goals apiece after five shots each in the shoot-out before sudden death.
Under those conditions, the first team to miss is eliminated.
A composed Lady Devil Emma Moran slotted her shot through and goalkeeper Jasmina Zdelar saved the next, from former premier league player Amelia Spiranovic, to seal the Blockbuster Lady Devils’ grand final place in Football Federation Victoria women’s state league one.
This will be the Lady Devils’ fourth consecutive grand final.
The Lady Devils will face powerhouse Bulleen in the final, a team that defeated Ballarat twice in the home-and-away season.
Injury concerns surround Leah Wright, who will be monitored this week after hurting her ankle in the 70th minute.
The Lady Devils took a thorough game plan into the clash and capitalised early when Montana Faull scored in the fifth minute when she burst through to attack a cross by Jasmine Emselle.
While the Devils looked composed in the midfield, a series of defensive lapses early in the game left Holly Williamson and Emma Moran isolated as centre backs.
Quick Altona movement found a striker unmarked and she coolly leveled scores in the 25th minute.
Both teams struggled to score again.
The Lady Devils entered the second half more aggressive and engineered 12 clear shots at goal within 20 minutes.
Near misses, solid saves and the woodwork kept the Lady Devils at bay.
Ballarat’s best chance came when Delaney Martin shot from a tight angle and hit the inside of the post. The rebounding ball beat all Devils waiting in the box.
Altona attempted to find momentum in extra time but their rally was short-lived.
The extra 30 minutes followed a similar pattern to the second half.
Scores were still at 1-1 at the end of the extra time period.
Then came a penalty shoot-out
Lady Devils Beth Taylor and Tina Benoit missed their penalty shots, while Altona scored its first but missed the second.
Tessa Curtain leveled the score with the third penalty, and Altona missed again. Emselle slotted her shot home and Altona scored again.
Level two apiece, Delaney Martin stepped up to take hers and the goalkeeper got a hand to it but the shot was too powerful.
Altona’s fifth penalty taker, the goalkeeper, then scored hers to force the game into sudden death, where Zdelar worked her magic and was swamped by teammates in celebration.
Details, page 31