MACCABI’S senior hockey team won its first premiership in seven years after a tremendous 3-2 victory over Footscray in an enthralling grand final at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.
After failing to defeat the minor premiers on three previous occasions, Maccabi managed to get the job done in the most important hit-out of all, with David Birnbaum scoring the winner with only minutes to go in the extra time period.
“Normally it’s us on the other end of the scoreline,” skipper Darren Krawitz told The AJN after the win.
“So it’s nice to finally get a win … and what a great season, it’s [been] fantastic.”
Veteran Gary Brown played a starring role up forward, scoring on either side of half-time to give Maccabi the lead on both occasions.
His first came after 20 minutes of play, getting Maccabi off to a flyer and ensuring the side would take a much-needed advantage heading into half-time, which was kept intact thanks to a resolute defence led by Krawitz and Birnbaum.
However, Footscray hit back straight after the restart and almost had a second minutes later.
Both teams had several chances to take the lead, before Brown slotted his second of the game after a superb link-up with Gary Beville.
Footscray again put the pressure on Maccabi, levelling the scores for the second time when a long-range strike deflected off a Maccabi stick and went into the back of the net.
Neither side could capitalise on last-minute opportunities, with the game set to be decided in overtime.
Footscray was destined for the win when it had a three on one chance at goal, but Maccabi goalkeeper Danny Berhang produced a remarkable save to keep his side in the contest.
His team repaid the favour in the dying stages of extra time, with Birnbaum capitalising on Maccabi’s 10th short corner for the match, when he found himself free at the back post to secure the win.
“The grand final is just one game in the season,” Krawitz said.
“But you’ve still got to win the other 18, plus we did it the hard way, having to go through all three finals.”
PHOTO: Maccabi celebrates its premiership success, after the side’s dramatic 3-2 victory over Footscray in the Metro 3 Central
grand final. Photo: Lochlan Tangas.