By Kieran Yap (5/4/23)
Above: Emily Sutcliffe launches into the air after scoring for the Boroondara-Carey Eagles. Image supplied with permission by: Passion Creations. (https://m.facebook.com/passioncreations)
Alamein 5-1 Southern United
The Victorian NPLW ladder is still taking shape, but after three rounds Alamein sit on top of the table. Following an impressive and somewhat surprising 4-2 win over Calder United in round two, they backed that up with a 5-1 demolition of Southern United.
The goals came in bursts at Dorothy Laver West Reserve. Chinatsu Shidara opened the scoring in on the 36th minute. Alamein’s corner kick was parried by the Southern United goalkeeper, and Shidara headed home from point-blank range.
The lead lasted only 60 seconds before Kiera Meyers equalised for the visitors. After receiving the ball centrally, she feigned a shot on her right foot to create some space, before curling it home from long range on her left.
That reprieve also lasted mere seconds, as Alamein retook the lead directly from the kick off. Savanna Anastosopoulos sped through the Southern United defence to score the third goal in as many minutes.
The chaos subsided for a time, and Southern United worked their way into the contest. Chances were harder to come by and it took until the 72nd minute for more goals to arrive. Anastosopoulos was in the thick of the action again. Her persistence at the edge of the area did not result in another goal for herself, but after repeated attempts to get a shot away, she laid the ball back to Sidney Allen.
The captain launched a powerful, low strike from 18 yards to extend Alamein’s lead to 3-1.
Allen scored her second before the 80th minute. Her pace took her clear of the Southern defence, and she had the poise to finish beyond the keeper. As in the first half, Southern United conceded twice in quick succession, they are new to this level, and so far their opposition has taken full advantage of their adjustment period.
Allen brought up her hat trick in injury time. Confusion at the back left Alisa Chechelnitsky on the turf, and Allen was able to score unopposed to put an exclamation point on a strong performance from Alamein FC.
The win continues Alamein’s strong start to the 2023 season. They remain undefeated and have scored 12 goals in the first three weeks.
The season will only get tougher, and every point counts. New manager Keanu Giumarra has gotten them off to a terrific start.
Box Hill United 1-5 Boroondara-Carey Eagles
Round Three’s other goal-fest came when Box Hill United hosted Boroondara Eagles. Box Hill had been flying high in the opening weeks, but the visiting Eagles looked on from the opening stages.
This was Kurea Okino’s night. The Japanese striker scored her first in the fifth minute. A strong attack down the right flank found Okino almost unmarked in the box. Her shot was rifled into the roof of the net to start the scoring on an eventful night.
Box Hill have been fairly free-scoring in the opening weeks. One of the main reasons for that is Anais Josefski. The wide attacker is blessed with pace, and an eye for goal, and her ninth-minute equaliser was one of her best.
Josefski controlled a dropping ball and cut outside the defender with a quick change of pace. With most onlookers and defenders expecting a shot. Josefski struck a venomous effort at the near post, sneaking the ball in at the most acute angle.
The spectacular equaliser seemed to spur on the visitors more than the home side. Okino brought up her second with another ruthless finish. One touch to take the ball into space, and the second to bury it into the net.
Haley Geurts got in on the act for Boroondara with the best goal on a night filled with incredible strikes. A cleverly worked corner was played flat and to the edge of the penalty box. Geurts struck it first time and it swerved into the net, catching everybody by surprise except the cannon-footed Eagle.
Emily Sutcliffe scored their fourth. A low corner kick was not properly cleared by Box Hill, and Sutcliffe struck a half volley into the bottom corner.
Josefski almost struck back for Box Hill. Maxine Di Blasi’s pass cut out the defence and Josefski was one on one with the keeper. It is a situation where she can be expected to bury to strike, but it was denied with some great goalkeeping by Deanna Bottalico.
Boroondara scored their fifth as a result of a counterattack. Box Hill’s corner was repelled and Rebecca Lim raced clear before weaving in and out to torment the home side’s defence. Her eventual shot was scuffed, but she was judged to have been clipped in the area. Okino brought up her hat trick with a confident penalty kick.
The big win puts The Eagles in second spot, and they join Alamein and Heidelberg United as the only undefeated sides in the league.
Preston Lions 1-0 Calder United
Preston Lions returned from the bye to face Calder United. Preston looked the more promising of the two sides. Melanie Camilleri saw her point-blank shot stopped by a fantastic Lara El-Hayek save.
She would not make the same mistake twice. As Calder tried to play the ball out from the back, it was stolen by Miri Nishimura. Camilleri was on the end of the eventual pass and hammered home the finish for the only goal of the game.
The loss means that Calder United currently sit in ninth place, but the season is young, and reinforcements will likely arrive from Western United. Nobody will be counting them out just yet.
Bayside United 0-2 Heidelberg United
Heidelberg United climbed to third with a 2-0 win over Bayside United SC. Captain Stephanie Galea scored both goals in the opening half. Bayside’s slow build-up from the back was eventually pounced on by Galea who ran close to goal before clipping it over the keeper in the 14th minute.
She doubled her tally in the 45th minute. It was another interception from Bayside’s possession play, and although she was on the end of a mazy run and pass, Galea’s finish was once again sublime.
With South Melbourne sitting the week out with a bye, The Bergers were able to leapfrog them into the top three. More importantly, there is an obvious momentum building by the team from Olympic Village.
Bulleen Lions 0-0 FV Emerging
The final game of the round saw The Bulleen Lions fight out a goalless draw with FV Emerging. Following the NTC side’s thrashing by South Melbourne in Round Two, this was an encouraging response.
However, the focus is on Bulleen who are winless after three weeks. Importantly, they have not lost either. They are playing a cohesive consistent style, and even without their A-League talent, have some game breakers in the squad. There is a feeling the tide will turn for them as it is starting to at Heidelberg.
It is a long season, and there is still plenty of football to play, but Round Three of the Victorian NPLW displayed some incredible individual moments. They will be hard to top.
The complete photo gallery of Box Hill United vs Boroondara-Carey Eagles can be found at https://www.facebook.com/100063771721311/posts/pfbid02dABREUHwCXVWT7vXkEwZx7ArkM8wjxxzpazpgNPupYkAnxdUA7Go1tZqhwCe4ytJl/?app=fbl