Anna Flanagan knows the road ahead will be filled with "what ifs" but she says the Canberra Chill can hold their heads high as trailblazers in Australian hockey's new era.
With Orange's Edwina and Meredith Bone among the Chill's stars, the former captaining the side, Canberra's Hockey One campaign came to a heartbreaking end in a 1-nil, semi-final, shoot-out defeat against HC Melbourne at Victoria's State Hockey Centre on Sunday.
With their hard-fought, thrilling, one-on-one victory Melbourne booked their ticket to the inaugural Hockey One grand final, where the Brisbane Blaze await them.
For now Canberra are left to lick their wounds - although Flanagan believes they should hold their heads high after reaching this stage in a landmark year for Australian hockey.
"It was really disappointing because we got so close but we just couldn't get over the line," Flanagan said.
"The whole concept was awesome. Being able to go home and getting hockey to every state in Australia, it just exposed hockey to so many more places.
"For a first hit-out it was really successful, so I can't wait to see what happens next year."
Neither side could find the back of the net through four quarters, sending the clash into a shoot-out where the Chill would ultimately be thwarted by gun Australian shot-stopper Rachael Lynch, a one-on-one specialist.
Both sides missed their opening two shots of the shootout and after the Chill missed their third it looked as though the ledger remained squad after Melbourne's Madi Ratcliffe was denied.
She was, however, gifted a second chance after an infringement and she made the most of it to put the minor premiers in front 1-nil, her goal ultimately proving the match-winner.
Although Melbourne were denied from their fourth attempt, neither Naomi Evans nor Brooke Peris could square the ledger for the Chill, leaving their Canberra side to lament what could have been.
"As a team we left everything out on the pitch," Chill coach Ian Rutledge said.
"Both teams were very close all year and it went down to the wire. It was a disappointing way to end the season, but the girls can hold their heads high.
"It's a long wait for the next one."
Melbourne host Brisbane in the decider on Saturday afternoon, at Victoria's State Netball and Hockey Centre, from 4pm.
The men's Hockey One decider precedes that from 2pm, in which the NSW Pride also face the Blaze.
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