It hasn't taken long for the Marulan soccer team to claim a grand final win in 2021.
Over the weekend, the reigning premiers of the Highlands Soccer Association's All Age Men Division One competition played against Yerrinbool in the final of the Darryl Kill Cup, and emerged victorious in overtime.
The Darryl Kill Cup is a tournament held by the HSA which begins during the preseason. This year, the round matches were played across the weekends of April 10 and 17.
After finishing first on the competition ladder with two wins, one loss, and one draw, Marulan qualified for the grand final, which took place on Saturday.
Yerrinbool finished with the same win-loss ratio, but a worse for-and-against differential put them in second.
However, their matches during the regular season, between late April and last weekend, proved that their defence was a strong point.
"We were looking at their previous results, and they hadn't had many goals scored against them," Marulan player and club president, Dan Cooper, said.
"They're well structured through the back half and play the ball around well, and then they look for the long ball with their quick guys up front. Defensively they're sound, so we knew it was going to be hard to break through their defence."
Early in the match, Marulan struggled as Yerrinbool got off to a fast start. An early goal put them in the lead at the David Wood Playing Fields in Bowral, before a serious injury derailed their momentum.
"There was a bad injury to one of the Yerrinbool sweepers, and once he was removed by the ambos, we got back on the park and they weren't the same team," Cooper said.
"We came out a bit stronger and faster and dominated most of the match."
The equalising goal was scored by Marulan late in the first half, before a deadlock ensued which saw both teams miss opportunities to score.
"They've got a couple of fast guys up front and they created a few opportunities on the counter-attack," Cooper said.
"When you're chasing a victory and pushing forward, they found us probably a little bit too far forward. Keegan Lee at the back in goal saved a couple of one-on-one chances which kept us in the game."
Finally, during extra time, Luke Will found the back of the net to lock in a 2-1 victory and set off excited celebrations from Marulan.
"To get that late winner, it was jubilation," Cooper said.
"It was a big relief, you always want to take the trophy home when you play a final.
"For us to come away with that at the end was unreal, especially without going to penalties because they're anyone's game."
In the regular season standings, Marulan are at second and Yerrinbool first, but the two have not played one another yet.
This win, and others like it over the last 12 months or so, have led Cooper to believe that his side has the wood over Yerrinbool. However, he knows that trend will likely mean nothing come finals time.
"We've come up against them a couple of times in finals and that's where they always play well," he said.
"They know how to play finals. It was that extra effort from the lads to get away with a win, because they're a finals team and always have been. During the season, they seem to plateau, and then lift for the big games."
The grand final also marked the James Will's first match as captain, and he celebrated the occasion by scoring Marulan's opening goal.
His effort during the game was a crucial part of the team's eventual victory, and for that impact he was praised by Cooper.
"Special mention to James Will, captain for the first time for Marulan and our man of the match too," he said.
This weekend, Marulan will return to the regular season fixtures with a clash against Moss Vale. The match will take place at Church Road 1 from 3pm on Saturday, June 5.
While you're with us...
Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up here.