DANIELLE McInerney admits it's a cliche, but says Merrivale will take this season one game at time.The Tigers cruised through undefeated in last year's Warrnambool and District league A-grade competition only to suffer a seven-goal defeat at the hands of South Rovers in the grand final.
McInerney, who recently celebrated her 100th senior game at the club, has stepped up to coach this year and said the team was keen to make amends for last year's heartbreak.
"For the girls who played last year, I know they have all worked hard over summer and they have all used (the grand final loss) as motivation," she said.
"For the girls who are new to the club, I think they are excited. We are looking good but I'm playing it down.
"We've talked about taking each game as it comes. I know it's cliched, but we just want to make finals, because finals are a whole different ball game."
Merrivale's A-grade team has lost two games in two seasons - a home-and-away fixture in 2010 and the all-important match in September last year.
The team's average winning margin last season was 20 goals, including a 77-goal thrashing of Deakin University in Round 6.
So it was no surprise many thought the Tigers had both hands on the flag.
"They (South Rovers) came out with a completely different line-up - Mandy Knee played goal attack all year but she came out as wing attack in the grand final and we didn't have (anyone) to shut her down," McInerney said.
"And we were, in a way, too complacent - getting ahead."
In 2010, the Tigers toppled East Warrnambool by seven goals in the premiership decider and even though the lead-up to the finals series and the second semi-final last year was smoother - the Tigers beat South Rovers by 19 goals to step straight into the big game - this track record doesn't count for much.
"People think that's good (only losing two games in two seasons), but I'm thinking it means nothing because we didn't win the grand final, and winning a grand final is everything," McInerney, who plays goal attack and wing attack, said.
With last year's coach Emily Batt returning to Koroit in the Hampden league, McInerney, as playing-coach, leads a more "versatile" team than last year's runners-up.
Reigning Hampden league A-grade best-and-fairest Elisha Carter has moved across town to join Merrivale's mid-court, while defender Tania Ross, who played alongside Carter at North Warrnambool, has also joined the Tigers.
Ross will be joined in the defensive circle by South Warrnambool recruit Brooke Thompson, while McInerney hopes young gun Mahni Wright, an under-15 player, will step-up to the senior ranks for a few games this season.
"I hope to play her a few games this year - she is quick and smart for a young girl," McInerney said.
She said the additions had added depth to the Tigers' senior line-up.
Ross and Monique Sefton were comfortable at both ends of the court, while all Merrivale's mid-court players had the skills to rotate between wing attack, wing defence and centre positions.
Having four strong defenders meant the line-up could alter to suit the opposition, McInerney said.
The Tigers opened their season with a strong win over Old Collegians on Good Friday and backed it up by defeating Kolora-Noorat by 20 goals at the weekend.