GIVEN her competitive nature Bathurst City coach Lisa Quinn freely admits she is "gutted" her side will not be part of this year's women's Premier League Hockey finals series, but there is also something giving her solace.
The way City's young talents developed throughout season 2019 has Quinn confident the club will bounce back next year.
In a campaign that saw City miss out on finals by just one win - the first time since the club's inaugural season in 2007 they've not qualified - Quinn was delighted how the squad's less experienced players rose to challenges.
"Shona Jarivs had a great game against Panthers, against the top side [two weeks ago]. She pretty much had a full game against them and was quite strong at the back," Quinn said.
"Kelsey Webb has improved enormously, Bridget Ellis didn't think at the start of the season that she'd be playing an attacking midfielder but she was able to hold her own.
"Those girls have really improved and we'll keep working on them for next season as well."
READ MORE: Saints, Wanderers happy to call it a draw
Quinn had been hoping that City would qualify for its 12th straight finals campaign on Saturday by pulling off a win by at least a three-goal margin against Confederates.
But with snow falling across the Central West on Friday and Saturday, officials made the decision to cancel the round. All games were declared nil-all draws, meaning Confederates retained fourth spot.
Quinn knows it would have taken a huge performance for City to have done enough to qualify, but was still disappointed to miss that chance.
However, she acknowledged the tight ladder was a positive for the women's league.
"I'm gutted. We always knew from the start that it was going to be a bit of a building year ... but I really did think we were a top four team," she said.
"Lots of people in the hockey community had said if anybody could do an upset ... if there was a dark horse, it was us.
"But we knew after round one that every game was going to count and we knew that the last round would probably be the determining factor, we knew that.
"It was so close and it's good for the competition to have it so close, I think it's a good sign."
The other positive Quinn was able to draw from this season was the attitude of her squad as a whole.
While having lost plenty of experienced players from their ranks and not enjoying the sort of success City has in the past, Quinn said she was pleased with the way her squad responded.
- Are you a Western Advocate subscriber? Then why not CLICK HERE and join our new Central West Sports Subscribers Facebook group?
She said it was a supportive environment.
"You know what, the girls are absolutely beautiful people. It says a lot about your character when you're losing, not performing well and not getting the wins you are used to getting, but our girls never blamed each other, they didn't attack each other, they stuck together," she said.
"They'd come to training and say 'I need to work on this, we need to look at that. Can we do this? Can we do that?' It's a real testament to the character of people that they are that even when the chips were down, the girls really stuck together."
Orange CYMS will host St Pat's in this Saturday's major semi-final, while Lithgow Panthers host Confederates in the minor.