The first week of finals in the Women’s State League promised to deliver plenty of tension and drama and it did not disappoint as APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC hosted SD Raiders FC while UNSW welcomed St George FC.
Match of the Round
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC vs SD Raiders FC
In a battle of the top two sides from the regular season SD Raiders FC prevailed in somewhat of a boil over as they booked a spot in the grand final with a 2-0 win over the premiers APIA Leichhardt TIgers FC. APIA will now have to win in the preliminary final next week to book themselves a grand final spot after being out enthused by a determined and resilient Raiders outfit.
The contest started at a whirlwind pace as both teams looked to gain a footing and assert their dominance. APIA dominated the early possession but struggled to create and meaningful chances as the Raiders scrambled in defence to plug any potential holes. The Raiders looked to hit APIA on the break and utilise their pace and movement up front by winning the ball high up the field and pressuring APIA in possession.
The first real chance of the contest fell to Erin Clout of APIA as she saw her side footed shot well parried away by Raiders goalkeeper Rhianna Muscat. APIA began to assert their dominance as the first half wore on and Clout came close again in the 34th minute where she saw her fee kick bounce off the cross bar. In fact the Raiders first shot on goal did not occur until the 37th minute as both sides defensive structure restricted the chances in the first half.
Nil-all at halftime was a reflection of the tightness of the contest and the ability of both sides defences thwarting each other’s attack effectively. APIA began the second half the stronger as they looked to open the scoring, Clout again came close from a free kick but she saw her shot well pushed aside by Raiders keeper Muscat.
The game though did open up in the 54th minute as the Raiders launched an attack which saw Sheree Bryant pick up the ball on the angle at the edge of the box and finish with clinical aplomb as her shot nestled into the far corner. APIA now needed to respond as they pressed for an equaliser, but the Raiders defence held firm against the wave after wave of APIA pressure.
APIA’s usually devastating attack was struggling to break down a Raiders defence which was holding their discipline tactically. In truth the Raiders created the better chances on the break as they nearly doubled their lead on the 83rd minute mark as the ball bounced off the post after a goal mouth scramble from a corner.
A minute later though the Raiders did double their lead as Caterina Moio forced her way between defender and goalkeeper and toe poked her effort into the net. This goal killed off any hope of an APIA fightback as the Raiders saw the job through relatively comfortably for the last 5 minutes.
Raiders coach Catherine Cannuli was extremely pleased with her team as they booked themselves another grand final appearance where they will hope they can go back to back after last years grand final victory,”Girls played outstanding tonight we dominated the game very happy to be going into back to back Grand Finals”.
APIA coach Matteo Maiorana was understandably disappointed with his teams display,” It doesn’t matter how many points you win the comp by if you don’t come mentally ready to play you lose.Full credit to the Raiders, they absolutely deserved the victory”. Maiorana will now have to pick his team up for another massive game next week if they are to book themselves a Grand Final spot.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 0
SD Raiders FC 2 (Sheree Bryant 54’, Caterina Moio 84’)
Sunday August 3rd 6.45pm, Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC: 16.Jennifer Bennett, 8.Carla Canini, 7.Erin Clout, 6.Lucy Gilfedder(12.Madeline Latham 4’) 2. Stephanie Glanville-Fyfe(5.Olivia Cicco 69’) 15.Kylie Manias, 19.Jessica Martinez, 20.Gillian Raymond(1.Courtney Halpin 75’),13.Marie Sim-Sing, 38. Sarah Urquhart, 14.Rebecca Watts(4.Samantha Scarlato 63’), 12.Madeline Latham(21.Nicole Carmichael 57’)
SD Raiders FC: 8.Sheree Bryant(33. Helena Ngauora), 13.Dana Buttigieg(57.Sabrina Pusateri 90’) 10.Dominque Caridad, 22.Stephanie Conejeros Berjerie, 4.Rhea D’Mello, 14.Brooke Hankin, 26.Natalia Ignjatovic, 15.Courtney Krope, 11.Caterina Moio(53.Brooke Williams 87’), 1.Rhianna Muscat, 54.Lara White
Substitutes not used: 44. Andrijana Djuric, 21.Mikhaila Mikulec-Purdon
UNSW 3 (Yadira Rengifo x3) 3
St George FC 2 (Lauren Gardner, Julia Browner) aet, Saturday 2nd August 3.45pm, Valentine Sports Park
In an elimination semi final which had the lot UNSW prevailed over St George FC to book their spot in the preliminary final next week. In a topsy Turvey encounter a Yadira Rengifo hat-trick helped UNSW edge a valiant and determined St George team 3-2 with the winner and Rengifo’s hat-trick arriving with only a couple of minutes left in extra time.
St George coach Carlo Tini conceded that his team was physically busted and could only commend the effort his side put in to run UNSW so close and very nearly book a preliminary final for themselves. UNSW coach Renato Jelen was pleased with the win but knows his team must find a consistent 90-minute performance if they are to qualify for the grand final and contest for silverware in two weeks time.
-By Sebastian Kalos