After just a handful of preseason training sessions Max Lysaght knew there was something special at Tolland this season.
Returning to Tolland this year after a stint at Wagga United, Lysaght said it's been a positive year from the get go.
"After the first couple training sessions I realised how good our team was, and I knew we had the capability to make the big dance," Lysaght said.
"The chemistry between some of the boys, you just don't even need to think, the ball comes your way and you know it's going to happen, you can turn around and the ball is already on its way instead of needing to call for it.
"There's been a bit of changing around throughout the year and even towards the finals series, one of the boys, Ahmed Al-Rubie, has been playing midfield all year and he's been pushed down into defence and he's killing it there as well.
"Everyone is trusted to play everywhere, we move everyone around and it just works."
Captaining alongside best mate Nicholas Tsipiras, Lysaght said the entire team's connection off the field has made for an incredibly enjoyable season on field.
At 24-years-old, this year's finals have been his first at the senior level, and he'd like to go all the way through.
With nerves growing each week as the games become bigger and more important, he said he's been battling plenty of butterflies.
MORE LOCAL SPORT NEWS
"I hadn't played any senior finals at all until this year, so to make a grand final is huge," he said.
"It's been pretty nerve-racking, I've definitely got the butterflies before each game, and the first week of finals was really, really scary, and the second week was even worse.
"I can't imagine what this week will be like."
Though nervous ahead of each game, once on the field and the first whistle has been blown, he switches to game mode.
"Once that whistle goes, it's game on and I don't even think about it, I just want to win the game really," he said.
With tight games against Leeton United and Lake Albert to make the grand final, Lysaght said his team needs to keep pushing to extend their leads, and not fall into defensive play too early.
"I think we've been starting really well, and we get on top, and kind of get a bit comfortable and in our minds, we think we just need to hold onto this lead," he said.
"So when we get the ball we start defending more than attacking, so I think once we get in front, we need to keep the foot on the pedal and keep attacking instead of going into defensive mode.
"I think that's why in the last 20 minutes of both those games, we've been getting really pressured and just holding on, so I think we need to change our mindset in the last 20 minutes and we'll be right.
"If we get a good start, we'll be flying."
Mindset has been a huge focus for the team this year, with Lysaght saying there's been a conscious effort to uplift players with positivity and encouragement.
"It's very easy for players when you're trying to encourage them, they sometimes take it as negativity, but we've been aiming on making that encouragement positive and using it as motivation," he said.
"We've been trying to turn that into positive vibes and we've really, really nailed that these last few games.
"If the boys make a mistake, we're straight into them telling him to keep his head up, and making sure that he doesn't get down in the dust because as soon as that happens, it's hard to come back from that."
Tolland play Hanwood in the 2023 Pascoe Cup grand final at Equex Centre on Sunday at 4pm.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: