Photo: Sandra Lorca
A bumper week of women’s football in Victoria saw our Team App Cup finalists decided as four teams faced an epic double headers, while the three-team shootout for supremacy at the top continues to build momentum.
Four sides faced epic double headers this week as Calder United and Southern United as well as Box Hill United and Bulleen Lions battled it out in both the league and the cup.
There was a similar tale for both fixtures, as Calder and Bulleen each did the double to book a date with destiny in the Team App Cup final later on this campaign.
The league match-up between Calder United and Southern United saw the former register a narrow 1-0 win, with a penalty from MelindaJ Barbieri the difference at Keilor Park Recreation Reserve.
Both defences seemed near impenetrable, as Rachel Binning and Lisa Fonua led with distinction from the back, while the keepers were also on form to keep both sets of attackers at bay.
The rain fell down at Kingston Heath for Tuesday’s repeat match-up with tired legs staved off by the interchange rules in place for the Cup fixture.
The opener came through a familiar face as Barbieri struck her second of the week with a delightful volley set up from a Rachel Alonso corner.
Calder were able to wrap up the game on 55 minutes with Brydie Siryj on hand to poke a finish over the diving Christina Fonua.
It’s the first chance at Team App Cup success for Calder United, who bowed out at the Round of 16 last campaign.
Box Hill had two different coaches at the helm of their two match-ups against Bulleen Lions, but succumbed to the same outcome in both instances.
The Lions were able to back up a 2-1 win in the League on Sunday afternoon by booking their spot in a second consecutive Team App Cup final with a come-from-behind victory to the same scoreline.
A cracking goal from Liana Iaconis saved Bulleen’s skin in the Cup fixture, facing a 1-0 deficit heading into the final 20 minutes of the fixture.
Box Hill talisman Melanie Camilleri broke the deadlock on 35 minutes after latching onto a high ball over the top from midfield.
It came just seconds after a gilt-edged chance from Bulleen forward Alex Amore went begging after the former Eltham Redback robbed Maddie Richardson of possession before waltzing clear on goal for a one-on-one.
It looked to be Box Hill – and interim coach Dennis Georgakopoulos’ – day after Tessa Sernio missed a golden opportunity to draw level from the penalty spot after winger Lia Privitelli was brought down in the box.
However, a fortuitous 35-yard hit-and-hope from Bulleen’s Iaconis saw the Lions draw level late into the second half.
The comeback was completed in extra-time through Brittany Dudley-Smith, who had the presence of mind to slide a finish with her first touch across the face of goals from a Emily Dolzan cross.
It mirrored her heroics just days earlier as her second half strike delivered the Lions three points in their push for NPLW finals football.
Alex Natoli put the visitors in front at Wembley Park with a sweetly-struck free kick coming from half way.
That was cancelled out by United’s Elaina Vatcky early into the second half, although Bulleen were able to swiftly respond through Dudley-Smith who struck a sweet half-volley to deliver the chocolates to the Lions in what proved to by Bob McGuinness’ last game in charge of the club, against his former side.
In other league action, a disciplined Galaxy United picked up their first win under the stewardship of Kat Smith, with the table-toppers claiming a 4-1 win over Senior NTC.
Laura Spiranovic was a standout on the day, and the skipper delivered the ball for the opening goal which came courtesy of Whitney Knight against her former side.
The second half saw Spiranovic get on the scoresheet herself on 62 minutes, before an Annabel Martin ball saw substitute Britt Elsen head in her side’s third just three minutes after her introduction into the game on 81 minutes.
The icing on the cake came courtesy of Leigh Gray, with the American’s ninth of the season coming from an Elsen corner.
Kyra Cooney-Cross’ 13th goal of the season sees her close in on top goalscorer Melina Ayres’ tally of 15, while Spiranovic looms as the next best chance, having hit double figures already this campaign.
At Lakeside, Lisa De Vanna turned on the style with a match-winning brace off the bench to deliver a third consecutive victory to South Melbourne, coming against the luckless Bayside United.
The crafty forward broke the game open within minutes of her introduction in the second half after a scoreless first 45, placing a curled effort past the reach of Ingrid Phillipe.
She further plunged the stake into the heart of the visiting Bayside outfit as she rounded the keeper to slot home her second on 69 minutes – the result of a tidy reverse ball from Tiffany Eliadis.
In the league’s other fixture, Alamein FC stormed to a 4-0 victory against Heidelberg United to earn some breathing space in fourth place as the race for a finals berth hots up.
Amy Kane opened the scoring through for Alamein after pinching possession off Bergers defender Sky Jensen before sending a vicious effort into the top corner.
A good stop from Erin Hudson denied Elise Mamanu-Gray an equalise at the other end, as Alamein capitalised by grabbing a second on 29 minutes.
Kelsey Minton was on hand to tap home from a pacy Mari Pastor ball across the face of goals.
There was a late flurry of goals to a pair of substitutes as Alamein turned on the style to complete the rout.
Cristina Cardaci combined with fellow sub Jacqueline Lemieux to slide home her side’s third, before Lucy Richards also came off the bench to good effect to convert an injury time penalty – her first goal at senior level.
The scoreline was a welcome boost to the Dashers’ goal difference, which now sits above the fifth-place Southern alongside a two-point buffer.