THEY were underdogs who finished fourth at the end of the Eastern Suburbs Football Association’s women’s division 4 regular season.
But the team affectionately known as the “Maccabi Mums” – with 43 children between them – found an extra gear in the finals series and last Sunday won a thriller of a grand final 2-1 against the competition favourites Maroubra United.
Cheered on by 130 fans at Hensley Stadium, Maccabi weathered an early storm from Maroubra who had all the ball in the opening 15 minutes.
Only a superb save at full stretch by goalkeeper Juliet Lewis prevented an early Maroubra goal.
Inspired by her acrobatic effort, Maccabi lifted and in only their second foray into their opponent’s half, they struck through a deft lob by Dani Gale that soared over United’s keeper and into the back of the net.
Maccabi got their second at the 30 minute mark when Dalia Bloom scored her 31st goal of the season, heading a perfectly timed cross from captain Denise Wright into the goal.
Lewis pulled off another two great saves – one just before half-time and another mid-way through the second half – but could not prevent Maroubra scoring from broken play close to goal with six minutes remaining.
United attacked relentlessly at the death, but strong defence by Maccabi resulted in only one shot on target, which flew just over the top of the goal.
There were hugs and high fives when the final whistle blew, and captain Wright dedicated the grand final win “to all our 43 kids for supporting us”.
“We only have time to train one night per week, but what we lack in fitness we make up in spirit,” Wright said.
“We didn’t think we’d be in the finals, but we had good lead-up wins and we deserved to be here today.
“I thought our goalkeeper Juliet was our star – she picked her moments to come out of the line and she stopped certain goals.”
Lewis said “we played with a lot of heart and I think that got us the win”.
“We figured we’ve got this far, so we didn’t want to finish the game with any regrets.”
Lloyd Millet, who coaches the team with Daniel Butterick, said Maroubra were undefeated all season, and his message before kick-off was to make the most of any chances that came Maccabi’s way.
“I knew Maroubra would come at us, but our players responded and played with a bulldog spirit”.
“I could not be prouder of them – it was their time.”