Under mountains of pressure Kinross showed maturity and composure beyond their years to celebrate an incredible, come-from-behind, golden goal victory over Jets in last week's Orange Aquatic Centre Water Polo grand final.
The students trailed 6-4 at the final break but, despite being exhausted, found another gear to produce a four-goals-to-two final quarter to send the decider into overtime before Ben Gillham stood up in the clutch, producing a game-winning play not long into extra time.
The minor premiership-winning Jets won the extra-time swim-off and drew a foul but missed their opportunity, with Gillham taking his chance at the other end to rifle home the title-winning golden goal.
The students' victory was their first over the previously-unbeaten Jets and came in a rematch of last season's grand final, they were understrength and also had to defy a five-goal performance from Jets' Olympic bronze medallist Nikita Williams as well.
...we just had to give everything we had for a maximum of four minutes.Kinross skipper Jorja Griffiths, on her side's plan heading into extra time
"That was the hardest game we've played all season," Kinross skipper Jorja Griffiths said.
"Going into that last quarter we just tried to keep our heads on ... we were absolutely exhausted. Ben and Sam (Archer) had done all our swimming and they were exhausted.
"I think what got us there was our teamwork, we worked together and didn't get carried away."
That exhaustion certainly wasn't limited to the students either.
Jets defender Michelle Cook said she and her teammates were out on their feet before the fourth quarter and then in extra time as well, and were hoping their big-game experience would come to the fore.
It did, but it wasn't enough and that's largely why Cook was so impressed with the students' ability to rally under pressure and earn what she called a well-deserved victory.
Granted, she did admit her Jets mistakenly predicted the students would actually fade in the dying stages.
"We mistakenly thought they were going to tire going into that last quarter but they somehow found another gear, their maturity under pressure was special to see," Cook said.
"They have a lot of firepower and speed, and they showed those things off beautifully. Congratulations to Kinross, that was without doubt the hardest game we've played all season. It was amazing to be a part of and so exciting to see the improvement in both sides."
Both sides actually entered the contest understrength, Jets were without star Brett Wells while Kinross called on Felix Mitchell from their second string side, a replacement Griffiths lauded after the win.
Little separated the two sides through the opening two quarters, with Williams' first-half hat-trick proving the difference as Jets led 4-3 at the main break.
She scored her fourth and Cody Kelso found the back of the net in the third term as well to extend the minor premiers' lead to two goals at the last break, with Nick Hay-McKenzie firing one home for the students in the penultimate quarter as well.
They have a lot of firepower and speed, and they showed those things off beautifully.Jets' Michelle Cook, on her side's grand final rivals Kinross
Williams netted her fifth and Todd Bryant scored for Jets in the final term too but the pair of goals couldn't get their side home as Max Waddell scored a fourth-quarter double, Gillham slotted one too and Archer found the back of the net as well to square the ledger.
"I didn't want to [go into golden goal extra time]. I was happy to have a draw," Griffiths laughed.
"The boys said [extra time] was just four minutes, so we just had to give everything we had for a maximum of four minutes. So we just had a go.
"This our last year for all of us except [Archer] because we're in year 12, so it's great to win."
Along with Mitchell, Griffiths heaped praise on Waddell, Gillham, Archer and goalkeeper Brendan Coffee and Cook agreed they were all excellent, before saying there was "no doubt" Williams was Jets' stand-out.
"She was double-teamed up front still managed to get shots away the rest of us could only dream of executing without a defender near us, she stayed calm and gave us great guidance," she said, also praising goalkeeper Gav Pilossof, Kelso and Brad Timbs.
More than anything both Griffiths and Cook agreed the decider was good an advertisement as any for the burgeoning sport, and the latter said it's exciting to see the competition continue to evolve.
"The competition is getting stronger, and it's exciting to see so many people developing a love of the game," she said.
- KINROSS 9 (Nick Hay-McKenzie 3, Sam Archer 2, Max Waddell 2, Ben Gillham 2) def JETS 8 (Nikita Williams 5, Cody Kelso, Todd Bryant, Brad Timbs)
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