NORTH Albury is taking the positives out of a season of near-misses and is determined to atone in the games that matter.
The Hoppers sit fourth and are guaranteed a spot in the finals but it could have been so much better after a draw and three losses of two goals or less.
They will start favourite in the last two home-and-away games but even if they finish with two wins, they will line up in the elimination final in the first week of the deciders.
But coach Fiona Boyer yesterday downplayed the missed opportunities.
“Things could have been very different had we been able to convert some of those games,” she said.
“But what it tells us and the other teams is that we are absolutely in the mix.
“Heading into the finals, we know that we match up pretty well but I’d imagine the other teams are thinking exactly the same thing.
“In other years, there has been a stand-out one or two teams. This year there appears to be four of us and Corowa Rutherglen has shown on its day it, too, can match it with the best.”
The Hoppers last week, for the second time this year, finished within a goal of perennial grand finalist Yarrawonga.
They had trailed by seven at the first change before clawing back to level the scores at the last break.
Boyer said they just had to work their way back into the contest.
“We knew we couldn’t blow them out of the water in a quarter so we just chipped away,” she said.
We worked hard in defence and that pressure led to vital intercepts and turnovers.
“We play well as a defensive unit and it has been a trademark of this team that we have been able to keep sides to lower scores.
“At the other end last weekend, Jess Fisher-Curnow and Sophie Robertson were also on fire with their shooting.”
On Saturday, the Hoppers face a Corowa-Rutherglen side on the cusp of breaking a long finals’ drought.
One win guarantees the Roos their spot, a loss and an upset win by Albury against Wodonga and it all comes down to the last round.
Last time the pair met, the Hoppers won by almost 30 goals but Boyer expects a very different Corowa-Rutherglen this weekend.
“Even though we won easily, it took us half a game to consolidate,” she said.
“They won’t let that happen again.
“Corowa-Rutherglen finds itself on the verge of playing finals and that would be a fitting reward.
“They will play it as a do-or-die final.”