SHEPPARTON United has sealed a season of dominance in the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League women's competition by completing the championship-grand final double.
United overcame the staunchest of challenges from a brave Strathdale to win 1-0 at Beischer Park.
An early goal to Sophie Papalia in the 12th minute was all that was needed for United, which made it back-to-back grand final wins.
They were challenged like they rarely have been throughout a 42-game unbeaten streak, stretching back to round two of the 2018 season.
United coach Sheridan Fairless praised her players' fighting spirit to withstand a fierce challenge from the determined Blues.
"It certainly wasn't pretty - it was a real challenge, but the girls really put up a great fight," she said.
"You'd like to think after the last two seasons we've had the girls could cap it off, they've put a lot of hard work into it.
"To come away from the season undefeated is pretty awesome. Being able to cap it off was the biggest challenge for us today and they've managed to do it."
Goal keeper Lucy Ciancio was named player of the match after being kept busy by the Blues throughout the second half and parts of the first.
Fairless further praised the performances of centre-back Maicey Hocking, Papalia up forward and her impressive midfield.
Gabrielle Dwyer was another of United's best in defence.
Fairless hinted at the potential for some changes in playing personnel for next season.
"It will be interesting to see whether we lose a few girls next season and have to start again in a few different positions," she said.
"There will be a few heading off to uni, but we will see how we go. There are a few young ones here too who are the future of our club, which is awesome.
"We have seen some real good development from our younger players this season, which we are happy with that."
Blues coach Rachel Oper could not have been prouder of her players after a courageous effort against the league's powerhouse.
"It was such an even challenge, the girls really took it up to them," she said.
"We were a little unlucky, we just couldn't put one away. They had us in the first half, but the second half we definitely dominated.
"Unfortunately we didn't make the most of our chances, but the girls fought it out right to the end."
Oper was left to rue what might have been had the Blues cemented one of their early opportunities in the second half.
"If we had of just got one away at the start, I felt we could have gone on with it," she said.
"With a few girls coming back from injury, we just ran out of legs in the end and couldn't chase down those balls we normally would.
"It was a well-deserved win for United, they are an amazing team. They haven't lost all season and they are definitely going to be a challenge for years to come. They are definitely not getting any weaker."
The Blues got outstanding service from Emma Heaney, Eva Harrington and Maddy McGrory, who had the difficult task of curbing the dangerous Papalia, who ended the season with 57 goals and remarkably scored in every game she played this season.
Despite a loss, Oper was able to reflect on a brilliant end to the season.
The Blues reached the grand final from fifth position following finals wins over Shepparton South and Colts United, and were not far off a remarkable win on grand final day.
"We hope to keep this group together - we are a very young group this year," she said.
"We'll keep most of the girls and we have quite a few young ones looking at stepping up from our junior age group.
"Hopefully we can come back next year better and stronger."
In other games, Shepparton United made it two grand final wins for the day with a 2-1 victory over Swan Hill in the men's division two contest, while Golden City defeated Shepparton South 5-2 to win the youth grand final.
The Rams led 4-2 at half time and were able to add a further goal in the final minute to Hsar K Paw Moo to put the lid on a stirring win.
Golden City coach Sean Tomlinson said the scoreline in no way reflected the closeness of the game.
Harrison Morley, Kayle Thompson and David Ross Mill led the way for the Rams.
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