Warrnambool Rangers celebrated a stunning preliminary finals weekend with both division one men and women’s teams progressing to Ballarat and District Soccer Association grand finals.
In a high-scoring but close encounter, Warrnambool’s men’s team defeated Buninyong, 5-4, at Morshead Park on Sunday to set up a top-of-the-table showdown with Sebastopol Vikings.
Warrnambool’s Cameron Pyke said his side had been lucky to score the first two goals of the game, before Buninyong replied.
The teams went goal-for-goal for the rest of the match.
“We always knew Buninyong was a very quick and fast team and they managed to catch us out a couple of times,” Pyke said.
“At the end of the day to get the win was all we needed. It was not the highest quality or best performance for us as far as defensively, but just to get to the finals that’s all that really mattered for us.”
After not getting on the scoreboard the previous week, Warrnambool’s main focus was for its strikers to find their touch again.
While the strikers did rise to the occasion early, Buninyong was level, 3-3, by half-time due to a defensive lapse.
“We knew their three goals had all come from our defensive errors, where we just weren’t able to close down or put enough defensive pressure on them,” Pyke said.
“We made a few tactical adjustments as far as moving a few different players into different positions to really try and stop their free-flowing movement and for a good part of the second half that seemed to work.”
Pyke said the emotion after the game was one of relief.
It was also another close game for Warrnambool’s women’s team defeating Ballarat North United 2-1 to secure its grand final spot.
The women had the best start possible with Zuraiyer Rantall finding the back of the net within the opening minute of the game.
Another goal from Angie Paspaliaris gave Warrnambool a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Ballarat North United scored its sole goal via Lurdes Costa at the 64th minute, but despite a drop off in urgency, the Rangers held on with strong defence to ensure the victory.