Lithgow Panthers have suffered a disappointing blow in the first round of the women's premier league hockey competition.
What seemed like an evenly-matched affair against Orange Cyms, fell away in the second half to a 4-nil loss.
Having gone through to the grand finals only to be beaten by Bathurst City last year, there's no doubt the Pantherettes will be looking to hit back hard in 2018.
Coach David Marshall said the performance just “didn't happen” for the team’s home ground opener on Saturday, May 12.
The Panthers women did make a strong start, securing a penalty corner within the first five minutes of the match. However, sharp shooter Amelia Leard was unable to make the conversion.
Circle penetrations were traded by the teams with unsuccessful goal attempts by both sides when, with five minutes left on the scoreboard, Cyms' Libby Smith broke away with the ball.
It hit the back of the net off Kennedy Chapman's stick, giving Cyms their first goal of the game.
Finding an opportunity to retaliate, Panthers failed to convert a second penalty corner with one minute to go.
Cyms drove the opening fifteen minutes of the second half but didn't see results from two penalty corners (saved by Panthers' Jess Luchetti) and a goal attempt ten minutes in, also rebuffed by the Panthers.
Cyms' unrelenting pressure in the goal circle paid off when Kennedy Chapman scored her second goal of the game.
This was closely followed by a third goal for Cyms as Madison Smith converted a rebound from an initially unsuccessful penalty corner.
Panthers tried to claw back control in the last twenty minutes of the game.
Despite multiple goal attempts and two penalty corners, they failed to get onto the scoreboard.
With ten minutes to go Deborah Orrock made up for an unfulfilled Cyms penalty corner by secreting the ball into the net while Panthers' goalie Jess Luchetti was reacting to a prior attack.
Cyms left Panthers scoreless with a four goal lead.
Panthers coach David Marshall said the game was lost on the strength of Cyms midfield, commending the control of Cyms' Jade Geotgiou in particular.
"It's disappointing because we've been training very well. It's just that the performance didn't happen on the day. But it's a long season," he said.
"Our basic control and our defence wasn't up to scratch today. We didn't mark them close enough and they took full advantage of that.
"Full credit to them, they deserved to win. They are going to be a hard side to beat."
Cyms coach Peter Shea was more positive in his evaluation of the Panthers.
"They're a good side, they threw a lot at us. It was only 1-nil at half time, so it was close," he said.
"They started to drop off in the second half. It's early in the season, fitness and all that. It was pleasing that we didn't have a goal considered against us."
He also commended the work of Geotgiou and 16-year-old goal keeper Kimberly Kiel, who was making her premier league debut.
"Our ability to move the ball through the midfield was extremely pleasing and our defence worked really well today,” Shea said.
CYMS: Kennedy Chapman (2), Madison Smith (1), Deb Orrock (1).