AFTER the full-time siren sounded in Saturday women's Premier League Hockey minor semi-final, Orange CYMS coach Pete Shea sat quietly in the dugout by himself for a moment to reflect.
The disappointment at having fallen 3-2 to St Pat's at Bob Roach Field and exited the title race was clear to see on Shea's face, but it was not the only thing he felt.
Shea was also immensely proud that his side made the first week of finals and that after trailing 2-0 at half-time, that they were able to lift and take the fight to their more experienced rivals.
The CYMS coach admitted that a month earlier, with his side sitting on zero wins and zero goals after three of the seven regular season rounds, finals hockey was not something he had envisaged being part of their 2020 campaign.
"I wrote us off after thee games because we weren't doing simple things and we weren't playing well as a team," Shea said.
"So for us to turn that around, and they're kids, we worked out there's only four people over 21, to have that group do what they did that was very pleasing development and growth for the year. "I couldn't be prouder of them."
Pat's scored the opening goal of the sudden-death match on five minutes, Millie Fulton punishing CYMS for a failed clearance.
The hosts struck again seven minutes into the second quarter and at that stage a CYMS outfit which had been beaten 4-0 by St Pat's earlier in the season looked headed for something similar.
But that's not what unfolded. While Pat's continued to pressure and create attacking chances in the second half - they had five additional penalty corners - CYMS worked their way back into the contest.
Courtney Hogan struck in the 43rd minute to make it 2-1 and even after Pat's pushed the buffer back out to two goals early in the final quarter, CYMS came again.
Phoebe Litchfield, who's pace and skill tested the Saints defenders throughout, scored off CYMS' fourth penalty corner play of the match to make it 3-2 with five minutes remaining.
CYMS were unable to find an equaliser in that remaining time which spelled the end of their season, but the tenacity they showed not just against St Pat's, but over the second half of the season gives Shea hope better things lie ahead.
"They gave us a real lesson in hockey in the round game, so for us to be where we are today and to compete - and we were a chance to get to 3-all - I am proud," he said.
"The first goal was our mistake, the second goal was a bit of a momentum killer - those two moments were probably the difference.
"I'm just disappointed we couldn't execute, I think we let ourselves down a little bit, but they're a good side.
For us to be able to compete against what I consider to be a really good side is a tribute to the way the girls have played the second half of this season.
"If we can maintain that sort of group and maintain the sort of culture we have within the group to keep dreaming and keep going, then there's a couple of good seasons potentially in the wings."
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