Image: Natasha Morello
Having already claimed the NPLW Premiership and Championship, along with the Community Shield, Calder United have completed a clean sweep in women’s football after claiming the Team App Cup in 2017.
Now the current holders of all four titles, the final piece of puzzle came via a 3-1 win at ABD Stadium courtesy of goals to Cindy Lay, Rachel Alonso and Dani Gudelj, with Brittany Dudley-Smith netting the Lions’ sole goal.
Former co-coaches Paul Kilpatrick and Mark Torcaso faced off on the sidelines, with the former’s Bulleen looking to become the only side to claim the cup twice, while the latter’s Calder were seeking to become the latest in a list of clubs – Box Hill, Bulleen, Boroondara and Heidelberg – to add the competition to their silverware for the first time.
The opener came when Dani Gudelj’s cross from the right was too much for Bulleen’s defence to handle – Cindy Lay was at the back post to nod the ball home, which cannoned in off the woodwork.
A quick running move involving passes from Alex Natoli and Eleni Fakos ended in Brittany Dudley-Smith taking a shot from the edge of the area that took a deflection and caught Beth Mason-Jones off her line, who was only able to parry the ball into the back of the net.
But Calder wrestled back the lead when a long ball forward by Gulcan Koca was chased down by Mindy Barbieri. She passed to Emma Robers whose delivery into the box sat up for Rachel Alonso to apply a classy finish.
Alonso was involved in the build-up to the sealer, finding the marauding Stacey Papadopoulos, who released Gudelj in acres of space. She composed herself to apply the finish past Emily Shields, admittedly not her best effort between the sticks but Calder didn’t care as they ran out 3-1 winners and hoisted yet another trophy in the club’s short existence.
The result is a credit to Mark Torcaso, Ian Williamson, Eric Psarianos and the rest of the backroom staff at the club, which has become the benchmark for women’s football in its short history.
In the process they’ve assembled a team containing a balance of W-League regulars, established Victorian top-flight names (many of whom have played together a long time), local youngsters who have established themselves in senior NPLW action and some internationals to add a final touch of quality to the squad.
They’ve no doubt become the hunted this season as the likes of South Melbourne and Galaxy United mount a tough league challenge, but the side’s existence in the NPLW era has been all conquering, with a solid backbone complemented by a strike force comprising a range of goalscorers which makes them all the more difficult to contain.