As Saturday’s elimination final wore on it was obvious one team was going to be robbed of progressing.
Shepparton United has been certain to play finals since round one, but Echuca led against its opponents for almost the entire match.
In a free-flowing game, the Murray Bombers were determined to continue their miraculous journey into the finals, before the win was ripped from their hands in the final quarter.
Casey Frame’s side was set to pull off a major coup at Tatura, until the Demons brought cohesiveness into their game in the second half.
In the same way United jelled together its season when it counted, it worked to forge a six-goal victory and progress to a second semi-final against undefeated Kyabram.
Three goals behind heading into the final term, Demons coach Di Hanslow brought on Kate Durling to wing defence and the veteran provided much needed stability through the midcourt.
With the scores level at 46, Echuca star Erin Hill was unable to find an option with her centre pass and the resulting held ball call led to Jessie Barnes-Hill converting the opportunity.
The Demons did not drop the lead from then on, with Sarah Bohn and Barnes-Hill composed in the circle, a major turnaround from the opening term where they struggled under the pressure of Echuca, who rose to the challenge.
While United was quick, the Murray Bombers showed more control.
Lisa Drysdale and Olivia Hannon were exceptional in attack, converting every ball that came their way.
They were not phased by where they had to shoot from as Demons captain Kirsty Hommes launched at any ball she thought was in reach.
While Echuca won the first term by four goals, the game was even in the second with the margin remaining the same at half-time.
With Hommes on Hannon for the first half she was not suited to the agile youngster’s game.
Moving Hommes into goal keeper and bringing teenager Laura Cole into goal defence to match up with Hannon was crucial as the side’s fortunes began to change.
While the Demons kept throwing away turnovers, Echuca continued to persevere with wing attack Abby Poulton a strong presence.
Hill showed her smarts, but the experience of Shepparton United’s senior players including Kara Dawes and Bree Hanslow ended a super showing from the young Murray Bombers.
Di Hanslow was pleased with her side’s performance from the second quarter onwards, confident her side’s persistence would prevail.
‘‘It was really only our first quarter where we made a few mistakes, which were really only our own mistakes, we felt that even though we made those errors our attacking end was functioning well,’’ she said.
‘‘It was just a matter of getting turnover ball, which is why we were trying to make a change and changed up the positions by switching Kirst back and putting Laura out to goal defence.’’
With Echuca defenders Dearnah Kent and Kloe Miechel solid, Hanslow applauded her side’s patience.
‘‘We had faith that they’re talented enough, if it takes 45 passes to get through then we can do 45 passes to get through, the result’s still the same,’’ she said.
Frame said while a loss was always disappointing, she was satisfied with her side’s efforts.
‘‘I was proud of the way our girls played, they never gave up and it was a really disciplined effort by them all,’’ she said.
‘‘As sad as it is to go out, it’s a nice way to go out with a performance like that.’’