THE Strikers head to Melbourne today for a double-header weekend, comfortable in the knowledge top spot on the ladder is wrapped up.
The Albury Wodonga women’s state league 1 team has earned the right to be promoted into the premier league next year with a 16-win season.
It has not lost a game since May.
It sits seven points clear of the second-placed Kew and a world apart from where they started the year.
Coach Tony Jones said talk of playing finals was almost fanciful at the start of the season.
“I still have to remind myself that the squad is largely a group of teenage girls, aided by the experience of quality players with state league experience,” he said.
“We have seen the girls grow in confidence all year and now believing they can not only match these sides but beat them.
“Yet while we have some great talent in the 15 and 16-year-olds and some recognised under-17 rep stars, the senior players have been the unsung heroes of our season.
“Nan Latta, Amy Allen, Sadie Butler and Allison Nicholson have led from the front.
“There was a mass exodus from what was a very strong team last year that struggled to finish fourth but these girls are enjoying the game, playing for each other and the results speak for themselves.
“Now we have earned the right to play in the premier league and there is really no higher league in the country.”
Goal-scoring machine Latta, this year with 34 to her name, said the mix of youth and experience had exceeded expectations.
“The spread of senior players is not in one area of the park and that helps too,” she said.
“But the young girls are willing to listen and there is no animosity or blame if things don’t go to plan.
“The real test will be finals where the top teams will no doubt try a few different tactics to unsettle the younger girls and limit the impact seniors have on the match.
“It will mean both will have to lift, rise to the challenge.
“But the fact is we have done that all year.”
The Strikers play Westvic today and back up for a late-morning clash with Mornington tomorrow before finals next week.