By Kieran Yap (29/3/23)
Above: Zoe Lambi (12) celebrates a goal for South Melbourne against FV Emerging. Image: Football Victoria
Despite some big scorelines, the Victorian NPLW was an enthralling as ever in Round Two. Two of last season’s top sides clashed when Heidelberg United faced Bulleen Lions, but there were some surprises elsewhere with Alamein facing Calder United, and one of the leagues newest clubs getting their first win.
Box Hill continued to flex their attacking strength against Southern United. Asuka Doi opened the scoring from a corner kick in the seventh minute. The ball was dropped onto her head with perfect delivery from Kanna Moriya and she was able to nod it in from almost point-blank range.
Box Hill’s lead doubled through an own goal, but it was the result of some excellent build-up play. Sienna Techera and Maxine Diblasi combined on the left to put Ciciliy Paraskevas into space on the right. Her cross was deflected into the net by the Southern United defender, but there was little they could do. It was sent in with pace and into a dangerous area.
Techera was at the heart of Box Hill’s third goal and best move of the game. Southern United were on the attack, and a quick clearance found Techera in midfield. The 17-year-old attacker cut inside and sent a long swift pass across field into the path of Anais Josefski.
Josfski has an ability to explode into space, and then finish while still speeding up. Southern United’s defenders and keeper had no chance of stopping her in full flight.
The score remained 3-0, and it was Box Hill’s first win of the season, but more importantly their second consecutive week of scoring three times. In Techera they might have one of the breakout stars of this season. She is young, so consistency may wane over 22 weeks, but she is talented and deadly with a pass or shot.
FV Emerging’s first hitout of 2022 was up against a rampant South Melbourne who were looking to put a tough draw in Round One behind them. The 6-1 scoreline was harsh on the NTC side, but this is a development squad and they traditionally take a few rounds to adjust to senior football.
They got off to an unfortunate start when Annabella Yates defected the ball into her own net. Janna Lawson added a second after a powerful, direct run into the box. She brushed off the challenged and fired home for her first of the night. Her brace was completed moment later with another strong finish in the 32nd minute.
Tayla Christensen continued her strong start to the season with a goal just four minutes later. Slick passing from South Melbourne put Danielle Wise in space at the edge of the box. The star signing turned and played in Christensen who raced in to score her second in as many games.
It was 5-0 before halftime when Caitlin Pickett got off the mark for 2023. The goal came out of nowhere when Pickett’s strike took everybody by surprise and snuck beyond the FV Emerging keeper.
Wise scored her first goal for South Melbourne. The attacker was dangerous throughout the game and was rewarded with a goal in the 60th minute to make it 6-0. The calm finish came at the end of a desperate clearance and South Melbourne were ruthless in their response.
FV Emerging scored a late consolation goal through striker Maia Marinkovic. The substitute attacked Ellie Vlaeminck’s cross at the back post and gave FV Emerging something to celebrate in the 91st minute.
6-1 is a hard scoreline to take, but it says more about South Melbourne than the youngsters from FV Emerging. South have invested heavily, recruited boldly, and have title ambitions. This will not the last big goal tally they post in 2023.
In one of the surprises of the round, Alamein defeated Calder United 4-2. Two goals each from Rebecca Daber and Savanna Anastasopoulos were enough to defeat the reigning champions. Calder scored from an own goal and Montana Mathews backed up her wonder goal from last week with another solo effort.
Saber’s opening goal was a thing of beauty. Alamein got the ball to her quickly, but with plenty still to do. She cut inside two challenges and kept her balance to score from close range.
Anastasopoulos scored the second through pace and persistence. It took three strikes to beat Lara El-Hayek but eventually the second of the afternoon went in.
Saber scrapped and fought for an opening to score her second. The eventual shot was powerful enough to beat El-Hayek from the edge of the box, but Calder United would be disappointed not to have cleared it when they had the opportunity.
Sidney Allen set up Anastasopoulos for her second and the match sealer in the second half. Allen drew the defenders toward her and then passed across the penalty box. Anastasopoulos finished low and hard.
Alamein just missed out on finals last season, and without Kat Smith at the helm, their start to the season was of great interest to neutrals and fans. New manager, Nunziato Maiorana has delivered some impressive performances so far with an encouraging draw in Round One, and an impressive win in Round Two.
In the heavyweight clash of the week, Heidelberg United hosted Bulleen Lions. The game ended 1-1 and both clubs are still in search of their first win, but most observers would have had trouble picking a winner before kick-off between two well-structured and coached sides.
Rosie Rodger backed up her impressive Round One performance with a goal in the 38th minute. Bulleen stalked and pressured the ball deep in Heidelberg’s defence, and closed down the space until they could literally force it in into the back of the net.
Heidelberg drew level before halftime. Some neat, fast paced interplay on the left flank ended up in the path of Kathryn Vlahopoulos who drilled the ball home emphatically.
The final game of the round saw newly promoted Boroondara-Carey Eagles defeat Bayside United 2-1. Kurea Okino opened the scoring for Booroondara from the penalty spot before Miwa Sasaki levelled the score for Bayside. Rebbeca Lim retook the lead for the home side with a 79th-minute goal.
After getting behind the Bayside defence, and beating the offside trap. She cruised into the area to finish easily and win the game. It was her second one on one with the goalkeeper for the afternoon and made no mistake when it mattered most.
After two rounds, the table is no clearer. South Melbourne sit on top, but no team has a perfect record. Boroondara Eagles have probably made the most encouraging start to the season. As one of the newer clubs to the league, they have drawn 2-2 with Bulleen, and beaten Bayside who looked very strong in Round One.
Next up, they face the free-scoring Box Hill side that had six goals in two games. If they can get a result from that match, it would be a fairy tale start to the season, The Eagles are a team to keep an eye on in the coming weeks, but Box Hill are currently box office.