Box Hill and Essendon played out a thrilling 4.3 (27) to 3.9 (27) draw in their Round 1 VFLW battle at The Hangar.
The Bombers took control of the game early with the first goal of the game before Maddie Boyd got the Hawks on the board with a classy set-shot finish.
Around the ball, it was captain Nicole Garner who led from the front in the first term while Emily Everist looked natural in her new role on the wing.
At the end of the first term, scores were level at seven points apiece.
The Bombers began the second term with two quick goals, meaning the Hawks would trail by their biggest deficit of the game – 12 points.
It was then when reigning best and fairest winner Jordan Mifsud stepped up immensely, creating vital opportunities inside 50.
Sophie Locke and Catherine Brown were also active at either end, while Nadia von Bertouch also stood tall in defence.
Despite a goalless term and a margin of 11 points to overcome at half-time, the Hawks went into the main break with the belief to turn the game around.
Box Hill came out of the half-time break blazing, peppering the goals and troubling the Essendon defence.
However, all that effort only resulted in five behinds, before Boyd finally settled the momentum with her second goal of the day – complementing the solid finish with a strong contested mark.
This put the Hawks within a point of the home team going into the final term, setting up a frantic finish at The Hangar.
Goals were hard to come by at the start of the fourth quarter, but Box Hill’s tackling intensity was up, led by the effort of Mietta Kendall.
The Bombers then got the breakthrough at the eight-minute mark, with the Hawks trailing by seven points.
It was cometh the moment, cometh the Maddie once again, as Boyd booted through her third goal of the game to put her team just a point behind Essendon with just over three minutes to play.
Two minutes later, Kendall arguably scored the most important behind of their life, drawing scores level with one minute to play in the game.
The ball pinballed around the field in the last minute, with both teams putting everything on the line to create that crucial, match-winning opportunity.
It was Garner who played goalkeeper in the dying seconds of the game, marking an Essendon kick for goal on the last line of defence to seal the result.
In the end, time got the better of both teams as the match ended in a heartbreaking draw.
Remarkably, this result marks the second straight time these two teams have played out a draw, with Round 15’s clash last season ending in each team recording 31 points apiece.
Unfortunately, the match was soured by two Box Hill injuries, with Annie Muir injuring her shoulder in the first quarter and Aine McDonagh sustaining a rib injury in the fourth term.
In the stats department, Boyd led the way with a game-high three goals, a game-high eight marks and 18 disposals.
Mifsud topped the lot with 21 disposals while Grace Matser won the hit-out count with 25.
The Hawks will now return home in Round 2, hosting the Western Bulldogs on Saturday, 12pm at Box Hill City Oval.
|Box Hill||1.1||1.3||2.7||3.9 (27)|
Goals: Boyd 3
Disposals: Mifsud 21, Garner 20, Boyd 18, Hammans 14, McRae 13, Locke 12