Ben Gilby provides his weekly round-up of all the action from the Western Australia NPL Women’s competition as the final week of the regular season plays out. As always there is an in-depth report from one game and a full wrap of all the other matches along with action shots from the games (29/8/22).
Above: Perth SC’s Abbey Meakins – scorer of yet another superb goal on Friday night. Photo: Rob Lizzi.
Murdoch University Melville 0-3 Perth SC
Murdoch University Melville’s (MUM FC) hopes of Top Four Cup qualification were dashed on Friday night as Perth SC ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at Besteam Stadium.
Going into the game, the permutations were simple for MUM FC. They had to win to have any chance of qualifying for the Top Four Cup. Failure to do so would hand Hyundai NTC a free pass into the post-season tournament regardless of how they got on in their own final game of the regular season against already qualified Fremantle City.
Murdoch went into the match with the confidence of taking four points from the six available from their previous NPLW WA matches against The Azzurri this season, having beaten Perth away at Dorrien Gardens and gaining a draw in their first encounter.
For their part, Perth SC knew that barring a freak mix of results on the final weekend, they were guaranteed second place. They were able to welcome back Perth Glory star Caitlin Doeglas, always an impressive creator, into their ranks for this match.
A large crowd gathered at Besteam Stadium as MUM FC ran a special night for all their club volunteers, on top of spectators attracted to the encounter due to its huge importance.
It was The Azzurri who were out of the blocks quickest with Jaime Duncanson flying up the right on two occasions. Their best opportunity came just before the quarter-hour mark as Alyssa van Heurck fed Abbey Meakins in midfield and the Perth star played a gorgeous pass through with the outside of the foot for Doeglas to advance and hit a shot just wide of the far post. Sophia Papalia later hit an effort from 20 yards which was easily claimed by Murdoch keeper Monique Todd.
Whilst MUM FC were largely restricted to counter-attacks in the first quarter of this clash, they were not without their chances. A perfectly weighted long ball into the path of Andrea Preiato saw her run through and lob Rebecca Bennett in the Perth SC goal, but the ball went just wide of the right-hand post.
With Elysse Shore battling hard, Nikita Strickling looking to spray passes to her teammates, and the pace of Meghan Hulsman, the home side began to gain more of the possession and territory.
Strickling got down the right and played a cross-shot into the box towards Hulsman, but Bennett claimed the ball.
Murdoch had one further chance eight minutes before the break as Rachel Gillies curled a free kick in outside of the area on the left, but Bennett held on.
Whilst Perth SC had ultimately nothing to play for on the night as they had already pretty much wrapped up second spot and with it the double chance in the Top Four Cup, they came out firing at the start of the second period and laid down a real statement of intent for the post regular season action.
When their attackers are all firing, The Azzurri are an absolute joy to watch, and they produced a powerful 20 minutes of football. Jessica Byrne beat Wainwright and found Doeglas who slid a pass through to Duncanson on the right. The classy attacker sped into the box and let fly, but to no avail. Shortly afterwards, Doeglas was involved again with her shot claimed by Todd.
Perth were in no mood to ease up, and within 60 seconds hit the front. Meakins lifted through a pass for Duncanson in the box. She took a touch and smashed home just inside the box from a central position.
The visitors remained on top and full of creativity, although it would take a further 17 minutes to increase their lead.
Doeglas showed her influence once more as she got away down the right and squared for Maya Spatafore parallel with the left-hand post. Her touch saw the ball roll across to Ella Lincoln who fired the ball into the net.
The Azzurri‘s third goal was yet another example, if we needed one, of what a superbly gifted finisher Abbey Meakins is. Doeglas was involved yet again as she played a ball across from the right for Lincoln. The Perth youngster played a ball back to Meakins who hit an absolute rocket shot to clinch the three points for her side.
Murdoch rallied in the closing stages with Strickling hitting a shot wide of the right hand post, and Hulsman won a superb battle with Alyssa van Heurck before hitting an effort narrowly wide – but they could not find the goals they needed.
The outcome means that regardless of the outcome of their match against Fremantle City on Sunday, the talented teenagers of Hyundai NTC will take the last spot in the Top Four Cup.
It has been a rollercoaster ride of a season for Murdoch University Melville, who lost a large number of the squad that delivered them silverware last term. The new, and largely young side that Luke Thompson put together has got better and better as the season went on. If they can keep this team together, and add a couple of exciting new faces, then a return to previous glories is not out of the question.
For Perth SC, they have finished second every year that the NPLW WA has been in existence. Now is the time to take the next step and claim silverware. They have the team to do it and have twice taken points off of Perth RedStar this season. Having said that, Carlos Vega Mena’s side remain the absolute red hot favourites to complete a clean sweep of this season’s trophies.
Teams: MURDOCH UNIVERSITY MELVILLE: Todd, Lehane, Gillies, Lawrence, Wainwright, Shore, Hulsman, Preiato, Strickling, Hope, Meaden. Substitutes: Hoarau, Neal, Mathers, Schubert.
PERTH SC: Bennett, van Heurck, Zampogna, Phillips, Cook, Meakins, Papalia, Gibbons, Doeglas, Byrne, Duncanson. Substitutes: Harvey, Lincoln, Spatafore, Tanner, Flannery.
Scorers: Duncanson 56′, Lincoln 72′, Meakins 76′.
Referee: Josh Mannella.
Round 21 Wrap:
After Murdoch University Melville’s loss on Friday night, Hyundai NTC‘s clash with Fremantle City at E&D Litis Stadium took on the status of a dress rehearsal for their elimination tie in next weekend’s first week of Top Four Cup action.
It was Freo who came out on top 3-1 in this Sunday afternoon encounter thanks to a spell of three goals in a 10-minute period either side of the half-hour mark. City keeper Dayle Schroeder’s long goal-kick was inadvertently flicked on by the home side which fell perfectly for Jamie-Lee Gale to gather possession and run in on goal. The former Perth Glory player drew NTC keeper Lilly Bailey and tucked the ball into the net.
Five minutes later, Freo doubled their advantage as a corner out on the left was recycled into the box for an unmarked Tash Rigby to head home at the back post. Not long after, the visitors hit their third when, from a throw-in on the right, near the corner flag, Matilda Boyle was allowed to turn and dribble her way along the by-line and square for Nina Boorman to score.
The NTC gave themselves a lifeline within two minutes of the second-half opening. A long ball down the right led to a cross into the box which was met first time superbly by Natalia Vega Mena to score. It was a quality finish, but the closest the teenage side could get to Fremantle on the scoreboard.
Balcatta Etna completed their campaign at home to NPLW WA champions Perth RedStar side who needed to avoid defeat to complete an unbeaten league season.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon at Grindleford Reserve, a campaign that has been a ‘what might have been’ one for Balcatta ended with them denying RedStar a win in an NPLW WA match for only the third time all season, as the game ended goalless.
For Perth RedStar, all focus now is on the Top Four Cup as they go all out to complete a clean sweep of all the trophies available this season having already won the pre-season Night Series Cup, the State Cup, and the NPLW WA title.
Subiaco‘s historic season ended with another victory, as they dismissed Curtin University 6-0 at Rosalie Park – a result that ensured that Curtin went winless for the entire campaign.
It took Subi just five minutes to take the lead. Curtin coughed up possession playing out from the back under little pressure which allowed Frankie Murray to profit and find Lisa De Vanna outside her. The former Matildas legend played a delightfully weighted through ball for Marianna Tabain on the left of the box to slot home.
Any hopes Curtin had of avoiding another defeat were swept away by two De Vanna goals in 54 seconds before the quarter-hour mark. The first came as a Curtin goal kick went straight to the hosts in the midfield, and two simple passes got De Vanna away to lift a peach of a chip from the edge of the box into the net. Her second came straight from the resulting kick-off as Curtin lost possession. Ella Mastrantonio was found and Subiaco’s other Matilda instantly released De Vanna who advanced into the box, rounded Gabriele Maluga in the visitors’ goal, and slotted home from an acute angle.
It was 4-0 just before half-time. Subi won a throw just inside the Curtin half. Keziah Burgis released Tabain along the right. The right-sided attacker who played nine seasons with Perth Glory, got away from two would-be tacklers and pulled a cross-shot into the far corner of the net from the right.
The icing on the cake of a historic season for Subiaco came with two further goals in the last quarter of an hour. Annie Leyland gathered possession in the centre and released Murray outside her, who was able to advance at will along the right before cutting inside and hitting a low shot into the net.
With a minute of regulation time to play, the rout was completed as a Curtin goal kick went straight to the hosts on the right wing and the ball eventually was laid back to Murray who lifted a shot into the box which rebounded back off of the crossbar into the path of Megan Shepherd to tap home.
Curtin have ended a poor season in a particularly painful way, as they conceded 13 goals in their final two matches, failing to score in the process. A lot of work needs to be done in the close season in a bid to make this team more competitive. With their U21 side having experienced similar results this season as well, that rebuilding work needs to begin immediately.
For Subiaco, this has been a truly sensational campaign. Prior to this season, the club had only ever won two matches in their NPLW WA history. This campaign has seen six victories for Greg Farrell’s team. Whilst the likes of De Vanna, Tabain, and Ella Mastrantonio have taken the headlines in the last two months of the campaign, the development of the team this season was palpable before the arrival of that trio.
Players like Keziah Burgis and Lizzie Wallwork who have been at the club for a number of seasons spoke about the progress the club has been making – and now it is evident for all to see. The challenge for Subi now is to keep that going in 2023.
Final NPLW WA Table 2022:
|Murdoch University Melville||21||8||3||10||25||28||27||-3|
TOP FOUR CUP FIXTURES – Week One:
Major Semi-Final: 3rd Sept: Perth RedStar v Perth SC
Winners progress to Top Four Cup Final. Losers play winners of Second Semi-Final for a place in the Top Four Cup Final.
Semi-Final: 4th Sept: Fremantle City v Hyundai NTC
Winners play losers of the Major Semi-Final for a place in the Top Four Cup Final. Losers are eliminated.