'Fantastic double': Pride girls celebrate wonderful season
FOOTBALL: Supportive Western Pride coach Russell Yarrow expects to lose some of his champion young players to older age teams or higher level programs after their incredible winning double.
However, he supports the best players progressing to older teams or the QAS as Pride continues its fantastic development work in National Premier Leagues junior competitions.
"We've already got so much interest from our feeder clubs,'' Yarrow said, also happy to have talent coming through Western Pride's Skill Acquisition Program (SAP) and other similar regional programs.
"From what I've seen just having these SAP girls come along to our training sessions, there's lots of quality out there and we'll be strong again.''
That's why Yarrow was keen to continue coaching next season.
But before preparing for 2019, Yarrow wanted the latest Pride victors to enjoy their state league achievement.
The Pride under-13 girls completed a wonderful season by beating Easts 3-2 in Sunday's grand final at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
In warmer than usual conditions, the Pride footballers overcame some early anxiety to show why they also finished the regular season top of the table to complete the premiership/championship double.
They recovered from 1-0 down and Easts levelling at 2-2 on Sunday afternoon to showcase their quality.
"For my girls, they were just a bit nervous,'' Yarrow said.
"The grand final, the big event and they knew it was going to be a big crowd.''
After only beating Easts 1-0 in the second round after a first round draw, Pride knew it was going to be a tight contest.
Yarrow said they had some dangerous players including Golden Boot winner Ella O'Grady, who had scored 49 goals heading into the grand final. O'Grady added two more in the final game of the season.
"Easts are such a good side,'' Yarrow said.
"They rely on really four players in their spine . . . they build a lot of their play around those four players and as much as we tried to shut them down, we didn't get into the game quickly.''
However, after Pride conceded early, striker Tia Appoo and midfielder Georgia Dean put Pride ahead before Easts drew level in the 41st minute.
"There were just a couple of little mistakes in the midfield and I think that was more to do with the heat, the speed of the game,'' Yarrow said.
Pride midfielder Chilli Moffatt scored the winning goal in the 51st minute.
"It was quite a fast match for a final, which given the heat yesterday, it took its toll on some of our girls,'' the Pride coach said.
To hold Easts out particularly pleased Yarrow, especially having Dean, Margaret Barrett and Zara Kruger backing up from representing Queensland days earlier.
The Pride trio was part of the Queensland under-12 team that played seven games in four days, winning the latest national title. Dean, Barrett and Kruger only flew home on Friday night.
Despite some understandable fatigue among key players, Yarrow was delighted with Pride's spirit.
"We were determined to win that game,'' Yarrow said.
"We didn't want to lose at home in front of that big crowd.
"The girls dug in and we got the win, which was just a terrific effort.
"To be premiers and champions was just a great finish to our season, with so much hard work.''
Pride's incredible record for the season was 22 wins from 27 games, with four draws and just one loss.
That followed Pride's 2018 successes by the club's men (third), under-20 men (grand final runners-up) and the grand final-winning under-18 boys team. Despite the expected loss of some of his under-13 girls' players, Yarrow was encouraged after meeting Pride's new technical director Matthew Shepherd.
"He's having an influence already and I'm excited to work with him,'' Yarrow said.
"With his experience working with the Melbourne Victory women and other programs, he's got a good knowledge of football and the women's game.''
Look out for more great photos featuring the impressive young Pride team in Wednesday's Junior Sport section.
State of play
NPL U13 grand final: Western Pride 3 (Tia Appoo, Georgia Dean, Chilli Moffatt) def Easts 2 (Ella O'Grady 2) at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.