Ben Gilby provides a full report from the game of the week plus all the details from the other matches in Western Australia’s NPL Women’s competition (15/5/23).
Above: Tia Stonehill celebrates after scoring Balcatta Etna’s opening goal at Perth SC on Saturday night. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Rob Lizzi.
Game of the week:
Perth SC 1-2 Balcatta Etna
Balcatta Etna upset the ladder by claiming their first-ever win in the Italian derby at Dorrien Gardens thanks to two goals from Tia Stonehill on Saturday night.
League leaders going into the round, Perth SC were without two of their key attacking weapons Gemma Craine and Ellie La Monte – both suffering from injuries. Head coach Peter Rakic played Liana Cook further forward as a result with Sophia Papalia pushed back into a slightly more defensive role.
Balcatta meanwhile were yet to reach their potential results-wise this season. Ahead of the match, they had not won since the opening weekend. That victory over struggling Curtin University contributed nine of their total of 12 goals for the NPL campaign, with an additional two coming in last week’s 3-2 loss to Murdoch University Melville. They have been boosted by the arrival of Perth Glory A-League Women player Sadie Lawrence, who has been at Murdoch University Melville previously.
With Perth SC goalkeeper Rebecca Bennett keeping clean sheets in all but one of her side’s six NPL matches in 2023, the visitors knew they would have to do something special to score. Indeed, Bennett was in imperious form when she was first called into action to claim a high free-kick into the box from the left delivered by Lauren Continibali after Poppie Hooks was adjudged to have fouled Tia Stonehill.
It was an opening 45 of few chances. Perth had possession and looked to build passing movements, but Balcatta’s defence was, as it often is, well-organised and tough to break through, Indeed, it took until the 17th minute for the hosts to force a dangerous opportunity as visiting defender Kimberley McCartney had her pocked picked by Abbey Meakins who lifted a first time effort which came off of the edge of the right-hand post.
The Azzurri forced another chance just before the half-hour mark as Jaime Duncanson’s corner from the left found Matilda Bohm who drove goalwards, but Dal Busco repelled and Carys Davis cleared.
However, the visitors would hit the front just three minutes later from a piece of typical Stonehill play. The attacker, who scored 16 goals for Murdoch University Melville in their successful 2021 campaign, is back in the game after missing the whole of the 2022 season through serious injury.
She was found by a cushioned header in midfield from Monique Prinsloo. Stonehill showed strength, pace, and confidence to surge between two Perth defenders and place a shot past Bennett to spark scenes of pure joy. It was also the first goal that Balcatta had scored away from home this season.
Shortly before the break, Meakins and Duncanson combined well to force a corner, but Balcatta were able to clear and so remained ahead at the break.
After the interval, Perth were looking to develop more in the way of sustained attacking play. Just after the hour mark, Faye Phillips directed a free-kick into the mix, Stonehill headed away, only for Alyssa van Heurck to feed it back in and Phillips found Judy Connolly at the back post, but the former NTC player hit her volley over the top.
With 63 minutes on the clock, the hosts levelled from a move that started all the way from the back with Bennett throwing the ball out. Papalia eventually found Duncanson on the left-hand side who rounded Monique D’Opera and curled home a stunner from an acute angle into the far bottom corner of the net.
Yet just two minutes later, Balcatta could have levelled as Continibali’s corner from the right came in high with Bennett pushing clear. D’Opera’s ball back in was repelled but once more in came a cross which Perth failed to clear, and Stonehill was in space at the back post with virtually an open goal, but couldn’t direct her shot on target.
As the encounter approached its final ten minutes, the Azzurri had a half chance as Phillips combined with substitute Ella Lincoln, but couldn’t quite get a powerful enough shot away before Dal Busco bravely gathered.
There was still time for one final piece of magic. A superb move from start to finish sealed Balcatta’s first-ever win at Dorrien Gardens. Substitute Emily Roach took up possession on the right flank and played a probing ball inside for Epril Nossent who was stationed around 30 yards from goal. She in turn played a first-time pass to Prinsloo who found Stonehill outside her just over 20 yards from goal. Stonehill hit an absolute peach of a shot first time on the turn and it flew into the net.
Tia Stonehill is back – and so are Balcatta’s top four hopes.
This was a tough loss for Perth SC to take, and one which saw them drop from top to third in the NPLW WA, with fourth-placed Murdoch University Melville just a point behind them. With La Monte and Craine on the sidelines, things will not get any easier when Fremantle City travel to Dorrien Gardens next weekend.
Teams: PERTH SC: Bennett, van Heurck, Hooks, Phillips, Godding, Cook, Meakins, Papalia, Bohm, Connolly, Duncanson. Substitutes: Lincoln, Zampogna, Caceres, Gibbons, Marshall.
Scorers: Duncanson 63′.
BALCATTA ETNA: Dal Busco, Davis, Doust, McCartney, M. D’Opera, Nossent, Continibali, Prinsloo, Hocking, Stonehill, Lawrence. Substitutes: Bulgaru, Roach, Bricklebank, T. D’Opera, Mohammad Zainurrafiq, McGlinn.
Scorers: Stonehill 32′, 84′.
Murdoch University Melville 2-1 Subiaco
Round seven opened on Friday night at Besteam Stadium as in-form MUM FC hosted Subiaco.
Murdoch went ahead with just over ten minutes of the first half remaining. A free-kick just inside the Subi half to the right of centre was played in high and allowed to bounce in the box where it found its way towards the back post for Vanessa Miller to tap home from close range at the second attempt.
The visitors recovered from their disappointment to level matters seven minutes into the second period as a corner came in from the left, Murdoch University Melville failed to clear, and Stephanie Waycott saw a shot parried by Stacey Cavill in the home goal which fell perfectly for Phoenix Brownlie to sweep home for her second goal in as many matches.
However, MUM FC hit back and grabbed the winning goal with just under half an hour remaining. Charlotte Meaden gained possession along the right wing and played a pass back for Clara Hoarau to turn her would-be tackler and lift a stunning shot into the top right-hand corner.
It was a fitting goal to extend Murdoch University Melville’s winning run to three matches and they are now firmly in the thrilling race for the top four.
Hyundai NTC 8-1 Curtin University
Hyundai NTC are second after a comfortable win over struggling Curtin University.
The teenagers hit the front with eight minutes on the clock. Mia Britton, impressive as ever on the right flank, broke through and squared a low ball across for Louise Tana to sweep home at the back post.
However, just four minutes later, Curtin levelled. In doing so, they scored their first goal of 2023 in their 11th league and cup match of the campaign. Mischa Anderson’s attempted pass rebounded off Curtin’s on-rushing Tiana Botha and rolled agonisingly past NTC keeper Megan Phillips and into the net.
Just after the half-hour mark, the NTC regained the lead as Violet Longmore’s cross was headed home by Klaudia Houlis, who is in red-hot goalscoring form at the present time. She was at it again before the break to make it was 3-1 when Tana supplied from the right for Houlis to swoop for her second.
NTC benefitted from both a misplaced header and then pass from Curtin to grab their fourth of the afternoon eight minutes into the second half with Houlis showed great strength to hold off her would-be marker and cooly poke a low finish into the right-hand corner of the net to complete her hat-trick.
Two minutes later, it was 5-1 as Anna Powell fed Longmore whose run outside her was not picked up and she was able to deliver a low ball into the near post that was poorly cleared into the path of Powell who provided Grace Johnston with the easiest possible opportunity to tap home from virtually on the goalline.
The floodgates were well and truly open and with 61 minutes on the clock, Lucy O’Halloran motored along the left and produced a ball in that was played back for Houlis to lash home. Seven minutes on, a high cross from the right into the back post was volleyed home from close range by Powell. The final goal of the afternoon came courtesy of Britton.
Perth RedStar 3-2 Fremantle City
Perth RedStar went top of the NPLW WA by a single point after edging out in-form Fremantle City at RedStar Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Freo went into this encounter on the back of becoming the first team all season to defeat Hyundai NTC last week, a result that extended their unbeaten run to three games.
All five goals came in the opening 45 minutes, with Reina Kagami’s long-range effort putting the home side ahead. Sophia Neal made it 2-0 after jumping onto an errant Fremantle pass and dispatching the ball into the net.
However, back came City with Rigby’s effort going in off of her Perth Glory teammate Kim Carroll, who is back with RedStar for this season. Yet, the rapid-fire nature of scoring continued as Quyen Doan put the hosts 3-1 ahead when she returned the ball back over Dayle Schroeder’s head after the Freo goalkeeper came out to clear.
Fremantle hit back once more as Abbey Green’s effort escaped the grasp of Shivani Battaglia, returned to the RedStar goal, and fell for Rigby to head home – but that was as close as the port city club could get to the home side.