In an action packed weekend, Southern Branch and Gladesville Ravens drew 3-3 in Nowra, while APIA Leichhardt upset Sydney Olympic with a courageous win at Lambert Park. Meanwhile, UNSW fired a warning shot to the rest of the competition with a thumping five goal win over Bankstown City.
Match of the Round
UNSW Lions took full advantage of a weakened Bankstown City squad, outplaying their opponents in all aspects of the match to romp home to a 5-0 victory in Daceyville. Gabrielle Marzano was the star of the show, scoring four goals – including a first half hat trick – while Ayse Adalis pitched in with a goal of her own.
With several key players out, including Liana Babic, Georgina Stylianou and Tijana Cerro, Bankstown started in a less than familiar formation, with striker Georgia Klapos starting deeper and Amy Dahdah lining up in the centre of the park.
After a slow start, UNSW began to dominate possession, giving the Bankstown midfield little time on the ball and stretching their defence by using the full width of the park. With Ayse Adalis, Monica Kavanagh and Gabrielle Marzano lining up as a front three, things were always going to be difficult for the visitors’ defence.
On 20 minutes, the combination of Adalis and Marzano almost put UNSW in front, as Adalis’ low cross was mistimed by the speedy winger. But just a minute later, a brilliant move put the home side in front. Elle Rasmussen’s expansive pass opened up space for Kavanagh on the right flank, who in turn fed Adalis with a short ball behind the defence. Her dark hair flying out of her ponytail, Adalis then repeated the earlier move, whipping in a pinpoint cross to Marzano, who finished calmly from close range.
Stung into action, Bankstown then tried to pull one back, with Samantha Muscat going close on a couple of occasions. Yet the visitors couldn’t find their usual rhythm, and Muscat found herself isolated up front. And it got worse on 43 minutes, as Adalis slipped a delightful diagonal ball through to an onrushing Marzano, who slid her shot underneath the advancing keeper to put the home side ahead by two.
That wasn’t the last of the goals for the first half, however, as Marzano completed her hat trick on the stroke of halftime. Monica Kavanagh’s looped ball into the penalty box bounced awkwardly for the Bankstown defenders, but Marzano calmly rose to nod the ball home after the first bounce.
From there, the game was finished, and several Bankstown heads started to drop. Again, Samantha Muscat tried to lift her side, but to no avail. On 65 minutes, a great pass from Mel Parlato put Muscat through on goal, but the speedy striker trod on the ball and the opportunity was wasted. Usually lethal in those areas, the moment was illustrative of Bankstown’s evening.
With ten minutes left on the clock, Shani Lauf set up Ayse Adalis for UNSW’s fourth goal, before Marzano casually slotted home a free-kick from twenty five yards to round out a resounding victory for UNSW.
While this match was notable for the virtuoso performance from Gabrielle Marzano, it was a wonderful team effort, particularly considering that regular starters Laura Clapperton and Claire Stephan both started on the bench. The centre backs Jacqui Feros and Deirdre Barham both put in polished performances, while the workrate and organisation of Elle Rasmussen, UNSW’s midfield metronome, was outstanding.
UNSW have positioned themselves perfectly for a late run home, and this win will give them plenty of confidence going to their final five games.
Elsewhere in the Competition
In other news, Parramatta Ladyhawks and Mt Druitt Town Rangers drew 2-2 at Melita Stadium in a see-sawing battle, while Southern Districts had no trouble against Nepean, as Kaitlyn Craig, Louise Howard and Sherie Bryant all scored in a 3-0 victory away from home. Meanwhile Sydney Olympic were upset by APIA Leichhardt 2-1 .
Sydney Olympic’s loss opened up space on top of the ladder for Western NSW Mariners, who made no mistake at home against St George. After putting seven past Gladesville last Sunday, the Mariners this week put eight past their hapless opponents.
In Nowra, a thrilling match between Gladesville Ravens and Southern Branch ended 3-3, after the visitors fought their way back into the match. For the home side Southern Branch, there were goals to Kiara Rayner and a double for Madelaine Costanzo, while for Gladesville Katherine Turner scored a double and Fatty Agar also found the back of the net.
In the reserves, UNSW, Sydney Olympic and Parramatta Ladyhawks and Southern Branch all earned victories, while Western NSW Mariners and St George drew 3-3 in Bathurst.