By Jamie Harnwell
It’s difficult to put into words the absolute rollercoaster of emotions that season 2017 has been for Sorrento FC and all of its, players, coaches, officials and volunteers.
The absolute highs of a fantastic FFA Cup run in which we became the first Football West side to reach the Round of 16, to being knocked out in such controversial circumstances. From losing the State Cup Final on the Saturday in a disappointing display to beating Canberra Olympic on the following night and having Sean Canham score the 300th goal of the FFA Cup.
Since the start of the season, there had always been the thought that this could be something special for the club. We had a squad of quality and depth with competition for places across the park. The Night Series was a good start, and had we taken our chances against Bayswater we would have contested the first final of the season.
Instead, the players used it as motivation and started off the season in blistering fashion. Some of that early football was first class and we tore a number of teams apart. Unfortunately, we lost a couple of players along the way through injury and personal reasons, which set us back on our heels a bit.
However, come the halfway point of the season we were still in great shape in the league, and progressing strongly in the cup. The mounting mid week games in the FFA Cup would prove difficult and the constant rotations of the squad necessary to maintain freshness, perhaps cost us something in fluency, but the players continued to get themselves up for games.
The semi final against Dianella was one of the most intense I had been involved with and it was a feeling of pure relief when the final whistle blew, even though we were deserved winners.
The first big disappointment of the season was the loss to Western Knights in the State Cup Final. It was a scrappy game, and we were unable to get into our normal passing rhythm but had still done enough to create a number of good chances, before a long range effort sealed it for the Knights. Whether that proved pivotal in the following Wednesday’s game against Canberra Olympic is unknown, but the players rolled up their sleeves and put out a completely professional performance to secure a 1-0 win and a spot in the next round.
With our FFA Cup run still on, our form in the league was patchy, and injuries began to take their toll. Nonetheless we scrapped and maintained our position in the top 4, even if it did go down to the wire by goal difference on the last day.
The FFA Cup game against South Melbourne was a tough ask. With limited assistance for the club in any travel arrangements, the players were afforded the most professional approach possible. Despite losing Reece Vittiglia to injury early in the game, we continued to create chances, but the luck from earlier in the season deserted us, as we were punished for those missed chances. The farcical sending off of Sean Canham would have seen a number of teams fold, but to the players credit they dug deep and were rewarded with a goal for their performance.
And so to the finals, we limped in with a bare squad with over 7 players missing from the start of the season. The team started off fantastically against Perth and should have been a goal or 2 to the good with a clear penalty not awarded before Perth took the lead. Again the players never stopped trying, but the long season had taken its toll and we were unable to force our way back into the game despite a flurry of chances.
It’s difficult to look back, there is certainly disappointment that despite the massive highs and history that the club created, that we were unable to land a trophy to mark the season. However, from the coaching staff, there is definitely an immense amount of pride in the players for the standards they maintained throughout the season and all the mid week games. By maintaining that spirit and professionalism we will continue to be a successful force in the NPLWA.