AFTER creating a slice of franchise history, South Coast Blaze's under 23s are ready for their next challenge.
The Blaze claimed their first trophy in their inaugural season on Wednesday night, winning the NSW Premier League U/23s conference B minor premiership.
"It's super exciting. I'm just really proud of the girls and it's a major accomplishment for our first year in the Premier League," Blaze captain Clare McCrohon said.
"We're a close-knit bunch of girls and we've had a really good support system behind us with the coaches so I think it's been easy to go in there and give our all every single week, and show no fear.
"It's really great to have finished first in our conference. I think that's all down to the really strong start we had at the beginning of the season and we'll just push through to the finals. It's a whole new ball game now but it's really exciting."
While they finished in top position, the Blaze finished their regular season with a loss on Wednesday night, falling 52-48 to the Panthers.
However, McCrohon remains confident that her side will bounce back when they face North Shore United next Wednesday night.
It's a must-win clash, with the winner moving into this year's grand final and it's season over for the loser.
"Obviously we wanted to go in and win the last round. Having said that, we were really proud of the effort we put out there and we're going into the finals series with the right intensity," she said.
"It's a slightly different [finals] structure this year. Usually the teams who come first get a second chance. But it's do-or-die next week.
"We took on North Shore United once this year and we did have a really good game and a good win against them. But it will be a really tough game, they've really improved this year and they're getting stronger. It will be tough, but we're definitely up for the challenge and looking forward to it."
While the under 23s prepare for finals, it was curtains for the Blaze's other side on Wednesday night.
The franchise's opens team lost their last game of the season, falling 62-58 to the Panthers in a thriller.
The result meant the Blaze finished in fourth place on the conference B opens ladder after recording just two wins in 2020.
While it has been a disappointing opening season for their opens, McCrohon said her team had learned a lot from their senior clubmates.
"It's been amazing to train side by side with the opens and complete all of our strength and conditioning with them," she said.
"We're a super tight franchise. All of under 23s look up to them and the opens are what we aspire to be."
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