Victoria College served up a major upset yesterday when they sensationally dumped holders Ballyclare High out of the Senior Schools’ Cup 5-4 on penalty strokes after a 1-1 draw at the semi-final stage at Lisnagarvey.
The Belfast outfit will now meet Lurgan College in the final on March 6 at the same venue after they defeated BRA 4-1 in the second half of the double bill helped by a Kathryn Edgar hat trick.
That result was no real surprise but Victoria reaching their first showpiece for almost 40 years certainly was especially as they had shipped six goals the last time the teams met earlier in the season.
“I just said to the girls the one thing they can´t beat us at is hard work and my word we worked so hard throughout and defended brilliantly throughout.” said Vics coach Paddy Grimes.
“We were a little lucky that their short corner routine misfired and they must have had about 15 but we´ll take the luck.
“Our goalkeeper Azka Yousaf was her normal brilliant self and she gave us confidence when the game went into a penalty shoot-out.
“This will do so much for sport in the school and 40 years is too long a wait to be in the final for a school the size of Victoria.”
Opposing coach Michelle Rainey was understandably bitterly disappointed at the outcome as most pundits had been predicting a repeat meeting with last season´s beaten finalists Lurgan College.
“We are absolutely gutted and we were the better team but just didn´t take our chances.” she said.
It all seemed to be going to plan when Ballyclare took the lead in the 34th minute when Zoe Wilson converted a penalty corner to put rainey´s side in front.
But Vic hadn´t read the script and Gemma Hool grabbed the equaliser 16 minutes later to force an extra 20 minutes.
However, there was no further scoring and the game went into a dreaded penalty decider and it was Victoria who kept their nerve to win.
Ironically, Ballyclare High had made it into Wednesday’s semi final after beating MCB 4-3 in a shoot-out in last Friday´s quarter final at Deramore.
The second semi-final was more straightforward as Lurgan confirmed their favourites status although it was BRA who went ahead after a defensive mistake on 15 minutes.
After a five minute delay when a hailstorm stopped play Lurgan equalised within 60 seconds of the resumption when Edgar got her first from a set piece variation.
Five minutes later a great run by Serena Barr culminated in her scoring after beating several defenders in a mazy run as she made it 2-1 at the break.
The second half was dominated by Lurgan and mid way through Bethany Barr´s pass found Esgar who calmly rounded the ´keeper before shooting home.
Then great build up play between Hannah Grieve and Alex Hurst created the chance for Edgar to complete her hat trick.
Lurgan will start favourites to beat Victoria in next month´s decider at the same venue but after Wednesday’s shock win no one would be foolish enough to write off the Belfast side.