Must-win for Cooloola Heat against Flinders
THE Cooloola Heat will head into its knockout semi-final against Flinders tomorrow brimming with confidence after a thrilling 4-4 draw with Maroochydore in a catch-up game on Tuesday night.
"We started really well and were up 2-0 in the first 20 minutes, and probably should've had at least another two goals with some easy chances going begging," Heat player/coach Dom Stephens said.
After goalkeeper Patrick Barnes made four consecutive saves, Maroochydore finally scored off its fifth shot to make the score 2-1 at half time.
"The second half started off strongly for us, and again we should've had two or more goals in the opening 15 minutes but we couldn't convert," Stephens said.
"After heaps of attacking opportunities we finally slotted our third goal, but Maroochydore kept attacking and before long we found ourselves down 4-3."
In a nail-biting finish, Dean Walker scored with just 10 seconds on the clock to earn the draw for Cooloola.
While a positive result for the Heat, the match was effectively just a warm-up for this weekend, with the outcome of the match not changing any of the four team's positions on the ladder.
In the minor semi-final, Cooloola will now play fourth-placed Flinders in a do-or-die scenario, while the top two teams in Maroochydore and minor premiers Buderim Rebels Black will square off, with the winner advancing straight to the grand final.
"There were plenty of positive to come from Tuesday night, but we really need to take our chances better," Stephens said.
"We have some good form against Flinders of late but we can forget about that - finals is a different ball game.
"In the last 10 years Cooloola has played in eight finals series, and in all of those games the biggest winning margin was three goals.
"It really comes down to which team wants it more on the day.
"We definitely have the talent to win this one but it won't count for anything if we don't turn up ready to go.
"The boys are hungry for the win and I'm confident we will have enough chances to win."
Stephens has enforced a ban on his players heading out to the Muster tonight to ensure the team is firing for the match.
Patrick Barnes, Dave Dixon, Dom Stephens, Joey Collins, Kalum Warhurst, John Daly, Nathan Stephens, Codey Warhurst, Jack Mckean, Matty Hurrell, Mitch Kuether, Mitch Robertson, Jayden De Serio, Lachlan Robertson, Dean Walker