Ben Gilby provides a full report from the game of the week plus all the details from the other three matches in Western Australia’s NPL Women’s competition (3/4/23).
Above: Grace Johnston prepares to fire in a free-kick for Hyundai NTC against Balcatta Etna yesterday. Image: Streamer.
Game of the week:
Hyundai NTC 1-0 Balcatta Etna
Hyundai NTC continued their winning start to the season with a dominant performance at home to Balcatta Etna at E&D Litis Stadium.
However, whilst the youngsters had the majority of possession and territory, an exceptionally well-organised Balcatta Etna, with Elizabeth Doust outstanding, will feel devastated that the winning goal came just two minutes before the end.
NTC were on the front foot from the start as Balcatta goalkeeper Gabby Dal Busco held two early shots, and then Doust made a superb tackle after Nelli Johnson’s through ball fell perfectly into the path of Georgia Cassidy, with the visiting player timing her intervention to the second.
The visitors were happy to sit off NTC when the home side had possession in their own half, but maintained their well-structured defensive line, forcing the teenage side to pass across and backwards.
Just before the half-hour mark, the hosts had a period of concerted pressure as Ischia Brooking lifted in a high ball from the left for Tanika Lala, only for Doust to block, but the ball came back to Brooking, who shot just wide of the post.
With 10 minutes remaining of the half, Tia Stonehill had a golden opportunity when she benefitted from a loose pass just outside the box from the NTC and had a clear run in on goal, but looked to rush her shot which went well wide of the left-hand post.
The combination of Brooking and Lala, which is one likely to cause no end of problems to all teams in the competition this season, provided another chance as the latter fed the former, only for Dal Busco to comfortably gather the shot.
Whilst Balcatta would take great heart from making it through to the interval goalless, the second period opened in the same vein.
Lala’s dancing feet along the left allowed her to eat up the yards before cutting inside and hitting a shot that was smothered. The visitors responded with Stonehill playing in Kimberley McCarthy who advanced to a one on one with NTC keeper Lilly Bailey who went in bravely.
Grace Johnston drove in a shot with 15 minutes remaining that went just wide of the right-hand upright.
Balcatta had their final chance to make the NTC pay the price for failing to convert possession into goals with six minutes left as Stonehill broke through and was fouled centrally around 15 yards outside the box. McCartney’s resulting free-kick went wide of the right-hand post.
Then, with two minutes to play came a piece of typical Lala magic. Maya Archibald found the outrageously talented youngster on the right-hand side of the box. In a piece of play that perfectly encapsulated everything that makes Lala such a prospect, the NTC attacker from the Goldfields used her strength to hold off the attention of Doust, and with the angle getting more acute by the second, fired in shot across Dal Busco and into the opposite corner of the net.
There was still time for another chance for the hosts as Klaudia Hoolis showed great ability along the left and cut in to supply Anna Powell whose header was gathered by Dal Busco.
Hyundai NTC remain an exceptionally entertaining team to watch. They serve as a reminder that Western Australian women’s football’s next generation is hugely talented. The state needs to find a way to keep them in WA for as long as possible.
Balcatta now host Subiaco next weekend in a tricky match between two sides who have both demolished Curtin University in the opening weeks. Their encounter in Round Three will give a far more reliable indicator of their potential Top Four Cup chances this season.
Teams: HYUNDAI NTC: Bailey, Collinson, Cuthbert, Anderson, Cassidy, Britton, Johnston, Lala, Tana, Johnson, Brooking. Substitutes used: Hoolis, Tanner, Powell, Archibald.
Scorer: Lala 88′.
BALCATTA ETNA: Dal Busco, Stonehill, Davis, Prinsloo, Doust, Continibali, St. Pierre, Nossent, Bulgaru, McCartney, Roach. Substitutes used: Couzins, Hocking, Dressler.
Referee: Stephen Knight.
Murdoch University Melville 0-2 Perth RedStar
Round Two opened on Friday night with two matches. Perth RedStar travelled to Murdoch University Melville and avoided a potential banana skin by winning the battle of the last two Top Four Cup champions by two goals to nil.
After going down in the season opener at home to Hyundai NTC last time round, Carlos Vega Mena’s side hit the front with just over a quarter of an hour played when a superbly angled header from Jay Coleman positioned to the left of centre of the box flew high and perfectly into the opposite corner of the net.
The clincher came a minute into the second period when Sarah Carroll clinically dispatched a penalty into the bottom left-hand corner.
Curtin University 0-13 Subiaco
Also on Friday, Curtin University’s dreadful run in 2023 continued after they fell to a league-record 13-0 defeat to Subiaco. Curtin are yet to score a goal across five Night Series and NPL matches, with over fifty goals conceded in the process.
Siena Crevacore helped herself to four goals with Frankie Murray, former Curtin player Dakota Van-Vugt, and Marianna Tabain all hitting hat-tricks.
It took Subi 13 minutes to hit the front. A corner from the left was recycled into the box, Curtin failed to clear the bouncing ball and Dakota Van-Vugt swooped to direct the ball home. Within two minutes the visitors doubled their advantage when a delightful through ball from Ava Richards dissected the home defence and was then laid low across the box by Frankie Murray for former Perth Glory star Marianna Tabain to dispatch into the net.
The 20th minute saw Subiaco go 3-0 up after a superb flowing move involving one-touch football along the left ended with Siena Crevacore tapping home at the far post after the ball was laid back. There were two further strikes before the break. First, a through ball from Crevacore dropped perfectly into the path of Van-Vugt to fire into the roof of the net. The visitors had acres of space to run into and the Curtin failed to react quickly enough to a charged down shot, allowing Tabain to hit the rebound home for her second of the night.
Within two minutes of the re-start, the visitors made it 6-0. A Curtin free kick went straight to a Subiaco shirt allowing Crevacore to break through with ease and slot the ball in. Two goals in a three-minute spell before the hour mark only added to Curtin’s woe. First, an inside pass from the left gave Crevacore a chance to shoot, which was not passed up for her hat trick. It was 8-0 when a goalkeeping clearance fell perfectly for her to lift it back over the Curtin keeper only for it to rebound back off of the bar, the home side failed to clear, and after the follow-up came back off the bar too, Van-Vugt curled home.
Subi kept their foot on the pedal and extended their lead further with ease as Murray’s low ball in from the byline on the right-hand side was met by an unmarked Crevacore at the back post to tap home from no more than three yards for her fourth.
The final three minutes saw as many goals. It became 11-0 as the home side twice lost possession in quick succession, from the second concession of the ball, an inside pass found Tabain who rifled home powerfully from the edge of the area to complete her hat-trick. A high cross in from the left was then missed by the Curtin keeper, allowing Murray to direct the ball home from almost on the goal line. The final goal of the night came as the visitors had the freedom the run along the left before a high cross came in that beat the keeper and was turned along the goalline for Murray to nod in to complete her own hat-trick.
Curtin University travel to Fremantle City next weekend, and things do not look like getting better any time soon. Subiaco face a fascinating-looking trip to Grindleford Reserve where they will take on Balcatta Etna.
Perth SC 6-0 Fremantle City
Perth SC are top of the embryonic ladder after sweeping Freo aside at Dorrien Gardens in Sunday’s late game.
Peter Rakic’s Azzurri have followed up their Night Series win with successive big wins in the NPLW WA, scoring 10, with Rebecca Bennett keeping clean sheets in both league openers.
Perth SC hit the front with just under a quarter of an hour played, as a cleverly angled inside pass found the feet of Ellie La Monte who sped clear to slot the ball calmly past Dayle Schroeder in the Fremantle City goal.
The home side doubled their lead nine minutes before the break as La Monte nodded across her own overhead kick across the box and then responded quickest to a Fremantle block to lash home.
It took until the 65th minute for Perth SC to find the net once more, and this time the ball was laid off from the left by La Monte the onrushing Faye Phillips to score. Ten minutes later it was 4-0 as Gemma Craine received the ball in her own half and, in trademark style, drove forward, drew Schroeder, and from a tight angle dispatched the ball into the net.
The final two goals came in the last four minutes. Phillips made it five after starting the move with a superb turn in the middle of the park before receiving the ball back from La Monte to drive through the wide open spaces ahead and confidently dispatch into the left-hand side. The last strike of the game came when a lifted ball from the byline on the right was fired into the net at the third time of asking by La Monte who completed her hat trick.
Perth SC are looking good – but next week they face last season’s champions Perth RedStar – who will be determined to put right their defeat to the Azzurri in the Night Series Final last month.