Belconnen United FC 6 (Price 4’, Yuen 18’, Thornton 45’, Johnston 57’, Bomford 65’, 78’) v Canberra Olympic FC 0
The game of the week on paper turned out to be a one sided encounter, with the Blue Devils taking the leader seat temporarily on Saturday after an emphatic win against then 3rd place Canberra Olympic.
The Blue Devils took the game over early on, with Samantha Price opening the score at the 4th minute. Following a through ball by Olivia Bomford, Price found herself facing Aurelia Haynes alone, and picked the bottom left corner to give her team the lead. The home side kept pushing, bringing the danger close to Haynes several times in the opening 15 minutes. The task was even harder for Olympic when star midfielder Heather Garriock had to come off, injured. In the next minute, Michaela Thornton’s cut-back pass in the box found Reilly Yuen, whose powerful left footed effort surprised Haynes and gave Belconnen a comfortable lead. Olympic tried to find solutions playing more direct football with Ashleigh Sykes as a target, but the pressure the Belconnen midfield put on their opponents often meant the ball was intercepted before it reached the former Julie Dolan winner. Thornton made the gap wider just before half-time. Launched by Leah Carnegie, she outpaced Ella Hemmings and found the bottom corner in a narrow angle.
Back from the locker room, Belconnen repeated the same feat, with three goals scored in 20 minutes. 12 minutes in, Thornton found Sarah Johnston, forgotten by the visitors’ defence and alone in the box. The midfielder wrong footed Haynes from point-blank range. Sykes had the opportunity to reduce the score, but shot straight at Cristina Esposito. The keeper also showed her skills by beating away a free kick from Ally Cook, from the edge of the box. Bomford scored her team’s 5th and 6th goal. She was reached perfectly by a long ball behind the defence from her captain, and her powerful left strike was too much for Haynes. Ten minutes later, the forward saw the keeper off her line and lobbed her from a distance, closing the festivities for the day. One last double-save from Esposito, in front of Sykes and Anna Bennett, earned her a deserved clean sheet.
After Canberra Croatia won on Sunday, Belconnen is back at the second spot two weeks before facing the reigning champions in Deakin. This weekend, it’s Olympic who will face Nik Brozinic’s squad at O’Connor. The Blue Devils in the meantime have another big team on the menu, they will play the Gunners in Gungahlin.
Wagga City Wanderers FC 0 v Gungahlin United FC 6 (N. De Marco 11’, 45+2', J. Brown 12’, Pennyfield 36’, 43’, 57’)
Gungahlin needed a win in the Riverina to take advantage of the results in other pitches this weekend, and the Gunners took care of business, scoring five goals in the first half.
The visitors played the attractive football we are used to see from them and started the game on the right foot. Natalie De Marco had a first opportunity to open the score five minutes in but blazed the ball over the crossbar from point-blank range. The Wanderers, donning a brand new jersey, tried to answer straight away, but Christina Grauer-Kompos could not find the target after Kirrilee Cameron had launched her behind the visitors’ defence. De Marco’s second chance came minutes later, and this time the pocket midfielder, at the receiving end of a low cross by Ella Brown, was able the put the ball past Emms for the first goal of Sunday. She went for a brace a minute later, but her shot was deflected by Wagga’s defence, only to find Jade Brown, whose powerful volley ended in the back of the net. The Gunners kept knocking at Emms’ door, but she was able to put her hands on yet another chance for De Marco. The 3rd goal for the Gunners was almost perfect in its conception. Natalie De Marco, involved in every dangerous opportunity, used her back heel to find her sister in the box, Stella kept her composure, and offered a well-timed cut back pass, and the goal, to Erika Pennyfield.
Gungahlin’s number 4 went for goal again five minutes later, and if Emms beat away her first attempt, Pennyfield was faster to get the rebound and chipped the ball over the keeper. Natalie De Marco would score the last goal of the first half in injury time, with a powerful and precise strike from the corner of the box, in the opposite side net. Back from the locker room, Sam Gray’s troops tried to find space behind the defence, and thought they could reduce the score when Megan Castle was found in the box, but the number 9’s volley was straight at Kailey Tonini. At the other end, Elke Aitolu’s perfect through ball found Pennyfield in the box, and from a narrow angle, the experienced midfielder recorded her first hat trick of the season. Diego Iglesias’ team kept the same attacking intents until the end, but neither Jada Lamond, nor Aitolu were able to catch the target.
The Gunners found themselves on the podium with that result, days before facing Belconnen United at the GEO. For Wagga City, it’s an eight game without scoring. They will want to end the drought at home this Sunday, against West Canberra.
Tuggeranong United FC 0v Canberra Croatia FC 6 (Palombi 45’, Gill 70’, 72’, Hagen 75’, 85’, Fogarty 79’)
Tuggeranong wanted to surf the wave of their first success, against Wagga City last week, and for almost a whole half, resisted the reigning champions, before the team coached by Nik Brozinic finally broke the deadlock, and sealed the game in the second half.
In Kambah, Canberra Croatia tried to take the measure of their opponents early, but on a pitch difficult to play on, the resilience and dense defence of the home team once again this season proved difficult for the Deakin side. Amy Wiggan, between the sticks for Tuggeranong, performed as well as she had the last few weeks, delaying the opener for as long as she could. The solution came from the leading goal scorer in the league, Brittany Palombi, five minutes before half time. A scramble in the Tuggies’ box ended with Jenny Bisset in possession of the ball. The midfielder took her time and saw Palombi free in the 6 yard box, and the forward picked the bottom corner to score the first goal of the day. Back from the locker room, the visitors faced the same difficulties when trying to bring the danger in their opponents’ area, until the 70th minute, and a prolific 15 minutes of football.
Grace Gill was the first to shine. A powerful strike from a narrow angle pierced through Wiggan’s arms 20 minutes before the final whistle. On the very next offense, Gill, again, took advantage of a ball clumsily cleared to strike the ball with enough power that Wiggan was only able to deflect it into her own net. Krista Hagen would be the next player to add her name to the scoresheet, with a cross from the edge of the box that lobbed the home team’s keeper and dipped just under the crossbar. The 5th goal saw Alice Churchill making the most of a miscommunication in the Tuggies’ defence. She was able to tap the ball just before Wiggan could grab it, and Olivia Fogarty, alone in the box, finished the job. The last goal was also the best of the lot. Hagen was once again the recipient of a ball poorly cleared and from the edge of the box, decided to back herself. Her shot snuck between the keeper and her near post, validating another solid win for her side.
Canberra Croatia takes their leader seat back after this game, before a complicated trip to O’Connor on Sunday. Tuggeranong will go further North, at Hawker to face Canberra United Academy on the same day.
Canberra United Academy 3 (Norris 27’, Christopherson 80’, Babic 90’) v West Canberra Wanderers FC 2 (Chaverra 37’, 55’)
In a crucial game for the Finals spot, the Academy secured the win thanks to a late winner at Hawker on Sunday. They put West Canberra five points behind on the table.
The first half was a cagey affair, with a long round of observation highlighting both teams’ intent: be patient, build up from the back and wait for the right opportunity. Despite a couple of alerts around Chloe Lincoln’s box early on, the Academy would fire the first shot. Eliza-Jane Norris, on the left wing, decided to take the matter into her own hands, ran into the box, past the Wanderers defence, and when facing Janet King on a narrow angle, back herself up and snuck the ball between the keeper and her near post. The goal was a wake-up call for the visitors, who tried to play higher up the pitch afterwards. The equalizer came from a former Academy’s player, Tara Cannon, the now West Canberra set piece specialist. Her long range free-kick dipped right between Lincoln and her defensive line, only for Wanderers’ star striker Sofia Chaverra to tackle the ball mid-air and tap it in the back of the nets. The end of the first half saw both team answering to each other, without really bringing the danger to close to the keepers. In a game where the 3 points were that important, the priority seemed to be defending well.
The second half offered a different scenario. Both teams came out of the locker room with better intent and more intensity. The home side decided to attack relentlessly from the get-go, with Sasha Grove and freshly subbed-in Meg Roden seeing a lot of the ball in the midfield and dictating her tempo. 20 minutes in the second act, a sumptuous pass from the latter found the former in the box behind the defence. Grove’s attempt was on target, but beaten away by King, but Sofia Christopherson was on the rebound for a goal… denied for offside. Seconds later, a miscommunication within the Academy’s defence offered Chaverra a one-on-one opportunity with Lincoln. The Colombian striker showed all her composure, waited patiently for the keeper to make her move, and wrong-footed her to give her team the advantage. From there on, it was a one sided story, with most of the action in the visitors’ half. It took Canberra United 15 minutes to break the deadlock. Roden would finally get a much-deserved assist, finding Christopherson alone facing the goals. From the edge of the box, the number 7 combined power and precision to pick the bottom left corner. The Hawker residents kept pushing for the last 10 minutes, while offering opportunities to West Canberra to counterattack, and finally got their reward in the dying embers of the game. Latisha Babic inherited the ball in the midfield, did not hesitate and armed a missile that got in with the help of the crossbar before bouncing out. The referee needed a minute chat to confirm it was indeed a goal, and rightfully ruled in favour of the Academy midfielder.
The win allows the Academy to take the 4th place, behind Gungahlin only by goal difference. This weekend they will be hosting Tuggeranong, while West Canberra travel to the Riverina to play the other Wanderers.
NPL CF Women's Goals Wrap: Round 17
Image: Andrew Caffery Photography