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Taipans at the finals......
Four South Coast Taipans teams made the playoffs and despite all the off field drama's this week, all four teams remain in contention for a grand final berth.
The U12 boys played the Raiders in the opening match and fell behind to an early goal to the Raiders. It was a very tight first half with neither side getting much ascendancy. The match opened up just after half time with the Raiders scoring three unanswered goals to put them four up. The Taipans however were not about to lie down. Some great chances and risky roaming goalkeeper play inside the last 6 minutes could have easily seen the Taipans level however for all that effort, the boys had nothing to show for it. The Raiders sealed the game inside the last couple of minutes before Jacob Gjorsevski pulled what only proved a consolation goal for the Taipans. Despite going down 5-1, coach Bobby Mazevski was still optimistic about the team turning it around against Sutherland next week and forcing a rematch against the Raiders in the final.
The U16 girls went into their elimination semi final match against Greater Western Vikings expecting a low scoring close match. The first goal was always going to be crucial and both sides displayed a nervous start with few chances. The Vikings capatilised on a stray pass to hit the lead mid way through the first period to hold a slender 1-0 advantage into half time. The Taipans started to get a little more adventurous in the second half as they looked to claw their way back into the game however it was the Vikings that doubled their lead mid way through the second half. Minutes later, Heather Duffy pulled a goal back for the Taipans before Matilda Lee Potter netted an equaliser just 2 minutes later to get the Taipans right back into the game. With the game looking like it might go into overtime, Catherine Bullivant snuck in what proved to be the winner. A wonderful comeback sets up a preliminary final against premiers Sutherland next week.
The Taipans Youth team played premiers Sutherland in what was always going to be a difficult game. It was made even harder with the fact that several regulars were unavailable. The Youth team consisted of just two regular players (Connor McGoldrick and Josh Gjorsevski) and several U16's (Kyle Del, James Brodnick, Jack Talevski, Matt Mazevski and back up keeper Christian Garcia) who barely made a team. This has unfortunately been a recurring theme across the year and the boys playing up have been there and done that so they weren't about to be over oared by the occasion. Sutherland took the lead with two consecutive goals mid way through the first half however to the Taipans credit, Matt Mazevski scored a brace just before half time to draw level at the break. In what turned out to be a thrilling second half, Sutherland once again scored two unanswered goals to go up 4-2. The Taipans pulled a goal back shortly after through James Brodnick before Matt Mazevski got his hat-trick through a well taken free kick with just under 2 minutes left. Sutherland however broke Taipans hearts with a goal with virtually the last kick of the game. The Taipans will need to regroup and knock off the in form Rangers next week if they are going to make the final.
Player shortage seemed to be the theme for our senior teams this week. The Taipans went into their elimination semi against former heavyweights Maccabi fielding just five players. Connor McGoldrick went between the sticks whilst regular keeper Dinis Guerreiro played as an outfielder. He was supported by Shane Lyons, Daniel Ferraro and 15 year old Matt Mazevski. Maccabi presented with a full strength squad and realistically one could only hope that the Taipans could simply remain competitive with few people giving them any hope of winning. Something quite incredible happened. The short handed Taipans rocked the semi final with goals to Matt Mazevski (2), Daniel Ferraro and Shane Lyons in the first half to put the Taipans 4-0 up and seemingly cruising.
With no substitutes, it was inevitable that Maccabi was going to make a run. A run they did, scoring 3 goals inside the first six minutes of the restart to reduce the deficit to just one. They started to put the tiring Taipans under enormous pressure with countless raids however the Taipans were not about to lie down. A sensational volley from Daniel Ferraro restored a two goal advantage however Maccabi found the net again soon after to make it 5-4 with still 11 minutes remaining. The Taipans were hanging on with desperate goalkeeping, scrambling defending and a tactical time out. Denis Guerreiro scored a freakish goal inside the last 5 minutes to put the Taipans 6-4 up however he went from hero to villain as he gave away a needless penalty moments later. Maccabi hit the post with it however with just 90 seconds on the clock, they pulled one back. It was to be too little too late as the Taipans conjured one of the most unlikely wins one is likely to ever see in a finals futsal game.
Congratulations to all players for making the Taipans proud. If next week produces just half the drama of this week, then it is worth going up and watching these games and supporting your team.