Last in each of the past three seasons, Central Coast Mariners shored up third on the ladder and coach Alen Stajcic says he still has greater goals.
After seven years in the wilderness, Central Coast Mariners have completed one of the great turnarounds in A-League history, finishing third with a 2-0 win over Western United.
Goals from Jack Clisby and Marco Urena during stoppage time shored up victory for an understrength Mariners at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday evening.
The last time the club finished higher on the ladder was second in their 2013 championship-winning campaign and comes on the back of three successive wooden-spoons.
It was a 12th victory of the season for the Mariners under former Matildas boss Alen Stajcic, equalling their win-tally from the past three seasons combined.
The result sets up a semi-final meeting with A-League new boys Macarthur FC, who the Mariners defeated 2-1 less than a fortnight ago.
"To finish third on the ladder is really an unbelievable achievement and speaks to the unity of the playing group," Stajcic said.
"The players have just flourished and so many of them have had the best season they have had in the A-League and I'm really proud of the group."
Stajcic said he didn't want to "take the risk" of aggravating injuries and is optimistic for next week's availability, despite captain Oliver Bozanic being removed from the starting side during warm-up.
Danny De Silva was left out of the matchday side altogether, Costa Rica creative outlet Urena started on the bench and key defender Ruon Tongyik is also absent on national team duty with the Socceroos.
Clisby crashed home a fierce volley midway through the first half for the opener, but the Mariners needed to call on all their resolve to hold off United in the second period.
"We were really resilient tonight. It was a real backs to the wall performance," Stajcic said.
"The young guys were playing against some of the best players in the league and you can't buy that kind of experience."
Stajcic said his side have further ambitions beginning with their first home semi-final for seven years next Saturday.
"That is just one part of the equation for us, so we will enjoy tonight but from midnight we will focus on the next task at hand, which is a difficult one against Macarthur next week.
"Macarthur are a really good team with some fantastic footballers in their side, and are a well-coached, well-drilled team so we know how tough a challenge it is.
"Any team in this top six can beat each other and whoever turns up on the day will be successful."