THE Monaro Panthers' suffered an illness and injury crisis at the wrong time of the year, with coach Tilly Carbone blaming that for ruining his preparations as his women missed the chance to make the grand final last Sunday.
They went down to ACTAS 4-1 in the Women's Premier League preliminary final, meaning they failed to back up their grand final effort last season, and that followed a 4-3 loss to Belconnen the week before in semi-final action.
They finished second on the ladder, one win behind Belconnen with just four losses for the year, but Carbone said having players unavailable for training meant he could not work on any structure.
"Three weeks leading into the finals we couldn't get a full team on the training park, so our preparation wasn't the best, and I think that showed," said Carbone.
Carbone said as few as five players were available for training during the finals period, and his bench last Sunday was entirely made up of under 19s players.
His team was without star striker and competition top goal scorer Meg McLaughlin, who is in training with the Canberra United W-League squad, while Liz McPherson, Leanne McEwen and Nikola Orgill were still out injured, after spending most of the year on the sideline.
Stephanie Coates and Georgina Bailey played against ACTAS injured, while Natalie De Marco, Olivia Fogarty, Georgia Fogarty and Lizzy Read spent last week playing for the ACT Schoolgirls at the national tournament, and could not train.
But despite a bad finish to the year, Carbone was still confident looking towards 2015, and said he would stay on as coach and would have the same squad.
"I'll be going around for at least another year, but the big one is we'll have Meg McLaughlin back for us," he said.
"In the meantime we'll also be holding trials for our under 16s players [to move up grades]."