Western NSW Mariners FC fell short of glory in the Sunday afternoon's Bathurst Cup under-14 grand final, losing out 4-nil to the Blacktown Spartans after a record-breaking number of outfits turned out for the 2019 edition of the tournament.
No less than 60 teams entered for this year's all-boys' tournament, coming from was far as the ACT, South Coast, Dubbo and Sydney to compete.
The Mariners produced a great effort to progress through the pool stage then beat Macarthur 3-nil in the semi-final, but fell short against the powerful Spartans, who incredibly claimed victory despite having just one reserve, and he was only hand for part of the tournament.
"It's been a great effort by the boys, considering we started with 11 fit players to start the tournament. We got one back on Sunday though," he said.
"It's great to play the country boys and get a good hit-out. Mariners are a good outfit and they really took it to us, until the last couple of minutes when we ran away with."
Bertolissio praised the Bathurst Cup tournament, saying it provides plenty of preparation for their upcoming campaign.
"For me, it's a great pre-season preparation for the new NPL 1 season," he said.
"It was a good opposition across the two days and that's why we come to these tournaments. It's great to play the country boys and get a good hit-out."
It proved a successful weekend for Spartans, as their under-16 side also won their grand final, defeating Canberra-based side Belconnen United 1−nil.
In the under-15 boys' grand final South Coast downed Bankstown United 2-nil in the grand final, after the latter side progressed with a last-ditch goal in the semi-final, one that sparked wild celebrations.
Sutherland Shire proved too strong in the under-13 grand final, defeating their rivals from Queanbeyan, the Monaro Panthers, 1−nil.
Come next weekend the girls' will take centre stage in the Proctor Park Challenge, more than 60 teams are entered for the two-day tournament.