It was a big weekend for women’s football in Western Australia and Impetus’ Ben Gilby reviews both the Hyundai Women’s State Cup Final and a historic outcome for Subiaco, who handed a debut to Matildas legend Lisa De Vanna in the weekend’s only NPLW WA match (25/7/22).
Perth SC 1-2 Perth RedStar
Above: Perth RedStar celebrate with the trophy after the match. Photo: Fotoenzo.
Perth RedStar once again showed their ability to take opportunities when they arise to keep their incredible unbeaten run going this season by seeing off a dogged Perth SC in the Hyundai Women’s State Cup Final at Inglewood Stadium yesterday.
In what was a tightly contested game in front of an excellent crowd, it was goals from Larissa Walsh and Jay Coleman either side of Jaime Duncanson’s strike just before the break for The Azzurri, that sealed the victory.
RedStar’s path to the final was been typically ruthless, as State League opponents UWA Nedlands (4-0) and Armadale (12-0) were seen off in their first two rounds before Curtin University were dispatched 4-0 in the semi-final.
Perth SC defeated three fellow NPLW sides en route to their first-ever State Cup Final. They began with a 12-1 thrashing of Subiaco in the first round before Fremantle City were seen off to the tune of 4-0 in the last eight. This then set up what turned into a dramatic semi-final win against Balcatta Etna. That latter game saw a late penalty leveller from Abbey Meakins break Balcatta hearts before an incredible penalty shoot-out decider, which included an excellent spot kick from Azzurri goalkeeper Rebecca Bennett in her team’s eventual win.
It was a harum-scarum start to the final with Perth SC looking aggressive offensively from the off, but RedStar weathered the early storm successfully and began to assert themselves in a half where disciplined defending by both sides reduced the amount of space available in which to mount dangerous attacks.
On the occasions that they were called into action, both goalkeepers were in excellent form. Rebecca Bennett advanced quickly to gather the ball at the second attempt as Sarah Carroll advanced menacingly on goal. Her opposite number, Shivani Battaglia in the RedStar goal was constantly impressive amidst heavy traffic from high balls played into the mix from set-pieces.
One of the big successes for Perth SC this season has been their dangerous wide players using pace and quality footwork to run, cut inside and supply. However, for the vast majority of the opening 45, The Azzurri were forced to play most of their attacks through the highly congested central channel, robbing possession to the likes of top scorer Jaime Duncanson, one of the NPLW’s most eye-catching threats along the flanks.
Ruthless ability to turn territory into a scoreboard advantage has been one of Perth RedStar’s real qualities all campaign long, and as Carlos Vega Mena’s team remained on top of possession, they made it pay.
Winning a throw on the right-hand side from Nadia Harvey, the ball was recycled to Carla Bennett who played in a high cross towards Jay Coleman at the back post. The former Fulham player gathered possession, looked up, and saw leading scorer Larissa Walsh in space parallel to the penalty spot. Showing her skill, Walsh received the pass and swung a first-time shot which looped into the net. The most deadly player in the NPLW was on target yet again.
Yet, Perth SC responded brilliantly and fashioned an equaliser just four minutes later. RedStar’s Tessa De Leo played a pass back towards her goalkeeper which lacked the necessary pace and Battaglia’s attempted clearance was charged down with the ball falling to Duncanson to slot home the leveller with five minutes of the half remaining.
The Azzurri were energised and began imposing their pressing, passing game on RedStar with real intent and conjured up the half’s final opportunity when Duncanson fed Faye Phillips who shot just over the top.
Perth SC began the second period as they ended the first, and looked much more like their usual selves in terms of establishing both their passing and wide games. Within two minutes of the re-start, Leana Cook hit a cross-shot from the right which rebounded off of the angle of post and bar.
Peter Rakic looked to build on his team’s strong start to half by introducing Stella Zampogna. The youngster has been in superb form for Perth SC’s U21 side, scoring 18 goals in 15 games this season. She was joined shortly afterwards by another attacking young gun, Ella Lincoln.
The Azzurri‘s inability to find a second goal during this period came back to haunt them as, once more RedStar saw out the danger and went on the front foot.
With 25 minutes remaining, Carla Bennett advanced through the midfield and threaded a delightful probing pass which dissected the Perth SC defence to find Sarah Carroll. The Perth Glory A-League Women player ran through unseen to shoot low into the left-hand corner of the net, but the assistant referee’s flag was raised for offside.
After a period of arm-wrestle football, RedStar came again with Sarah Carroll winning a corner as her cross came off of Alyssa van Heurck. Carla Bennett played it in high, Rebecca Bennett was unable to gather and Jay Coleman could not miss from close range to restore RedStar’s lead.
Perth SC worked hard in the final stages and came exceptionally close with two minutes remaining. Zoee Spadano, shortly to be leaving WA to play Serie A Futsal in Italy, played in Lincoln who showed great footwork on the edge of the box before going down. Play continued and the ball rolled out to Meakins to hit an absolute rocket which Battaglia pushed over magnificently.
That was The Azzurri‘s final chance as Perth RedStar ran out winners to lift their second piece of silverware so far this season. They could clinch a third when the two sides meet again in the NPLW in midweek as they need just three points to win the title with seven games remaining.
For the second time this season, Perth SC have gone toe-to-toe with Perth RedStar and shown that the potential is there at the Dorrien Gardens club to lower RedStar colours. Yet to do that, you need to take a leaf out of Carlos Vega Mena’s team’s book – be ruthless and take chances when they come. If not, RedStar will always find a way to win. They are a superb team.
Teams: PERTH SC: R.Bennett, Connolly, Harvey, Phillips, van Heurck, Gibbons, Meakins, Papalia, Spadano, Cook, Duncanson. Substitutes: Byrne (for Cook 89′), Lincoln (for Papalia 59′), Spatafore (for Harvey 89′), Zampogna (for Phillips 54′).
Scorer: Duncanson 40′.
PERTH REDSTAR: Battaglia, De Leo, Dunn, Monteiro, Teixeira, C.Bennett, Billam, Coleman, Wood, S.Carroll, Walsh. Substitutes: Cohen, Doan, Leota (for Wood 62′), Mogridge, Ridley (for Walsh 90+2′), Diederichsen (GK).
Scorers: Walsh 36′, Coleman 78′.
Referee: Caleigh Ormerod.
NPLW Catch-Up Match
Sunday also saw the rescheduled game from Round Three played at Rosalie Park as Subiaco hosted Balcatta Etna.
Subiaco fielded Western Australian and Matildas legend Lisa De Vanna. It was another superb signing for the club who have also added another local-born international Ella Mastrantonio and Perth Glory hundred gamer Marianna Tabain in recent weeks.
It was a quite sensational match with goals galore, a hat-trick, three penalties, and a historic outcome. Subiaco took the lead just before the half-hour mark as Keziah Burgiss escaped along the right and played a ball in which was turned back to Tabain to fire home from the edge of the box.
However, within nine minutes, Balcatta hit back as Monique Godding comfortably rolled home a spot kick.
With a quarter of an hour of the second period gone, Subi re-established their lead. Mastrantonio lifted it into the box for Tabain to play a pass back to Ingrid Gomez Basallo to take a touch and dispatch the ball into the net. However, it would be a lead that lasted just seven minutes.
Balcatta once more replied quickly with two goals in as many minutes from Monique Prinsloo. The first came when she fired high into the net from the edge of the box after the visitors dispossessed Subiaco in trying to play out from the back. Her second was reward for an intelligent run in front of Subi goalkeeper Marissa Pidgeon to turn home Godding’s low ball in from the right.
If that run of rapid goals was not dramatic enough, it was nothing compared to the final five minutes. Two goals from the penalty spot – the second as the clock ticked onto 90 minutes from Tabain sealed victory for Subiaco.
Yet this was not just any victory – it was one of historic proportions for the club. This 4-3 win ensured that, with six matches to go, Subiaco have won the most number of games (three) in their NPLW history and gained more points than ever before (12).
It’s a fantastic achievement for a club who have had it tough since coming into the top tier of Western Australian women’s football three years ago – but they are full of character and no little ability down Subi way. The addition of De Vanna, Tabain, and Mastrantonio brings top-level experience to a young side who are reaping the rewards of hard work.
|Fremantle City||16||8||4||4||39||23||28||+ 16|
|Murdoch University Melville||15||5||3||7||15||18||18||-3|
Round 17 Fixtures (Next Weekend): Murdoch University Melville v Hyundai NTC, Perth SC v Curtin University, Perth RedStar v Fremantle City, Subiaco v Balcatta Etna.