SELECT Futsal Premier League round-14 saw Dural Warriors edge Inner West Magic 5-4 to claim this summer’s premiership, Enfield Allstars beat UTS Northside 5-2, Campbelltown Quake dust Mascot Vipers 7-5, and Mountain Majik down South Coast Taipans 4-1.
What an epic regular season finish as Dural left it until 45 seconds to go to score a matchwinner and secure the 2017/18 premiership – their sixth in eight years, Campbelltown and Enfield filling the other two playoff positions ahead of Northside.
The four-point gap between finalists is the narrowest top-four margin, bettering the eight-point difference between Dural and Inner West in 2013/14, and it was also the closest margin between top and bottom-placed Mascot (21 points), three tighter than last summer and the 2011/12 season.
A final-weekend double from mercurial Mark Symington gave the Quake weapon 16 goals for the season and a narrow one-goal edge over Mascot’s Joel Flores.
And what a day for the Mountaineers (230 points) as they secured an historic club championship ahead of perennial winners Inner West (215) and Mascot (208)!
Men’s coach Adam Barbera couldn’t speak highly enough of everyone involved with Mountain’s highest peak, from players, coaches and managers to all the people behind the scenes that contributed to their success. He also said it was far from a massive celebration as there was still plenty of work to do with so many teams in the finals.
“By Christmas we all believed we’d get it due to the great start we had… but we still have to back it up with some wins in the finals, so we’re not celebrating too much as we want as many trophies as we can get,” he said.
“We do understand how big the feat is and we’re proud of all our players and everyone at the club who have put so much effort into it.
“Over the years we have watched closely what the other successful clubs had done and put our own flavour on it, and as a club it’s something Marl Cotter and the other committee members had a plan to do over five years, and we’re a year ahead of that, but only because every grade contributed,” Barbera said.
“We’ve prided ourselves on retaining players at the club and tried so hard to keep all our squads together, and this has counted toward what we achieved this year… you’ll definitely be seeing a lot of green at the upcoming finals!”
South Coast Taipans 1 (Dion Sterjovski) Mountain Majik 4 (Andrew Luttringer 2, Jamie Dib, Michael Borg)
Campbelltown Quake 7 (Mark Symington 2, Marko Filipovic 2, Daniel Martinez 2, Shaun Irwin) Mascot Vipers 5 (Joel Flores 2, Takuya Murayama 2, Conor Quilligan)
UTS Northside 2 (Mason Ireland 2) Enfield Allstars 5 (Dominic Cox 2, Michael Kouta 2, Charles Abou Serhal)
Inner West Magic 4 (Brian Griffin Colls 2, Matthew Lecce 2) Dural Warriors 5 (Wade Giovenali 2, Carlos De Oliveira, Greg Giovenali, own goal)
Rd 10: Campbelltown Quake 7 (Mark Symington 3, Daniel Martinez 2, Harrison Bagot, Marko Filipovic) Enfield Allstars 2 (Kris Vlismas, Laureano Gomez Castro)
Mountain Shadows Coast
New club champions Mountain Majik finished their day on a high note with a 4-1 win against South Coast Taipans at University of Wollongong Sports Hub on Saturday evening.
After securing the number of points necessary to make it mathematically impossible for Inner West to overtake them the Mountaineers could relax and Jamie Dib and Michael Borg strikes in the first seven minutes certainly made it a comfy 2-0 halftime scoreline.
A quickfire Dion Sterjovski goal straight after the break cut the deficit in half and made the game more interesting but a late Andrew Luttringer double secured victory and capped off a ‘Majikal’ day for the green machine.
It was a curious season for Mountain who had their lowest scoring effort (36 goals, two less that 2014/15) countered by their lowest ever concession (58 goals, three less than their previous best).
And although they’ve enjoyed more successful summers coach Adam Barbera said they’ll be a playoff presence sooner rather than later.
“We’re very happy with the squads we’ve put together in both the senior men’s and women’s,” he said. “They’ve shown a lot of development and the club championship win shows there is quality in our youth. We have a lot of players stepping up, so we believe we can make the finals in both senior competitions.”
Relegation will hopefully be a mere speedbump in South Coast’s continued improvement – they scored their most summer goals (40), had their second-best ever defensive record to establish a new best goal-difference; they also smacked Quake 9-6 and beat Mascot 6-5 (their highest two scoring games as a club) and enjoyed a second-highest points haul.
Quake Edge Vipers
Campbelltown Quake defeated a stubborn Mascot Vipers 7-5 at Minto Indoor Sports Stadium on Saturday evening and take third place on the ladder.
The home side definitely didn’t have it all their own way though as Mascot stayed on their heels the entire way, trailing 3-4 at halftime and finishing two goals behind in the end – the ninth time this season Vipers have lost by two goals or less (the most close defeats since Phoenix lost seven in 2013/14).
Mark Symington, Marko Filipovic and Daniel Martinez all claimed doubles, the brace sending Symington to the top of the goalscorers chart (16 goals) following his Thursday hat-trick in a 7-2 catch-up win over Enfield, and incredibly he’s scored in the last seven Mascot meetings (14 overall in the fixture while Martinez has 13).
Joel Flores and Takuya Murayama also grabbed pairs in the Vipers defeat, the former’s 15-goal summer tally Mascot’s best seasonal output (one more than Andrea Gallina in 2015/16) but agonisingly one short of Symington.
Campbelltown’s 27-point compilation is their second-best season, one off their 2013/14 summer, and came on the back of an 18-point road haul (the league’s joint-third highest away points tally) – unfortunately they picked up their least amount of points at Minto (9). A blistering 61 goals is also their second-highest scoring success behind a 64-goal effort in 2015/16.
Quake manager Carlos Martinez applauded the way the team moved past two hideous outings against Inner West (7-0 and 7-1 losses inside three days) to seal yet another finals berth (Campbelltown’s 20th playoff match is the most of any club).
“It took two good wins [versus Enfield and Mascot] to put behind that heavy loss against Magic. We have not forgotten it but we must move forward,” he said.
“With nine wins and five losses we find ourselves just one win from the minor premiership so it was a good season in our return to the top flight.
“We now focus on our sudden-death semi versus Enfield. They are always epic matches and we are looking forward to it.
“But the important job was survival as a club in PL 1. We achieved it with comfort and must now start planning for next season. We have a great nucleus of young talent (boys and girls) that is the future of Quake, we have four teams in the playoffs, and we’ll enjoy the next three weeks and then begin plans for next year.”
Enfield Topple Northside
Enfield Allstars held off a gallant UTS Northside 5-2 at PCYC Dee Why on Saturday night to finish fourth.
Dominic Cox scored inside five minutes for Allstars but the visitors found themselves trailing on the quarter-hour when Mason Ireland bagged two in two minutes for UTS.
A double Michael Kouta effort on the stroke of halftime restored Enfield’s advantage and they never looked back, a second Cox goal and late Charles Abou Serhal strike sealing a 5-2 deal – Cox has now scored in four straight Northside encounters.
Noted for their firepower a 55-goal haul for Allstars is actually their lowest season return (57 last year) – the season’s only double-figure scoreline (versus Majik) countered by two scoreless matches (the most of any side – but their summer will be noted for a strong defensive display that saw Enfield’s lowest-ever concession of 43 goals (they leaked 45 in 2014/15).
It was the highest points accumulation for UTS (19) in four seasons of premier league but still not enough to stake a finals berth, a club-low two road wins costing them the most.
Warriors Pip Magic
A last-minute goal from Dural superstar Greg Giovenali literally snatched this summer’s premiership right out of Inner West’s hands as Warriors came from two goals down to beat Magic 5-4 in a scintillating game at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday night.
Wade Giovenali scored from a set-piece corner and Carlos De Oliveira finished off a great Greg Giovenali run to set up a dream start for Dural in front of a jam-packed crowd but the tables turned completely when four Inner West goals either side of halftime – including a scorching pin-point Matthew Lecce header following a Roberto Maiorana long outlet – sent them 4-2 up before things got worse for Warriors when they had a player sent off on a second booking.
But a champion side never lies down and the match swung the other way as Dural dominated possession and chipped away at the deficit through a clumsy own goal with 11 minutes to go and a second Wade Giovenali strike before brother Greg hit the matchwinner (incredibly his first goal against Magic since December 2013) with a shot that rebounded off the post, hit Magic keeper Maiorana in the back and trickled over the line.
Warriors coach Rob Varela spread the credit across the court in yet another mesmerising encounter between the clubs.
“A magnificent game between two excellent teams with contrasting styles; a really great advertisement for the sport!” he said. “We’re very happy to secure the premiership but know we need to continue to improve coming into a very competitive finals series.”
It’s not just fox-talk from the veteran coach – Dural’s never had a tougher summer. They lost four games in a row for the first time, scored their least amount of goals (56, five less than 2014/15), leaked their most (38, one more than 2011/12), boasted their lowest goal-difference (+18, a remarkable 16 off last summer’s previous low +34), and even though they won the premiership it was their lowest points total since joining premier league in 2009.
Futsal is a game of millimetres and Inner West were a kick away from claiming the premiership, but there were several missed opportunities during a stellar season where Magic had the least amount of losses (3) but lost by a goal to Dural and Campbelltown, drew 1-1 and 3-3 with Enfield, were caught napping in a 1-1 draw with Majik, and eventually exposed by a two-goal loss to UTS a fortnight from the end.
Understandably Magic club manager Matteo Maiorana was gutted, but also underlined the absolute excitement of the sport.
“I don’t know what to say, I really don’t – heart-broken maybe?” he lamented. “We didn’t deserve to lose that game but credit must be given to Dural who never say die. It’s not the first time they’ve beaten us with a last-second goal [Warriors have beaten Magic 15 times in 22 meetings and seven of the victories were by a one-goal margin, another via penalty shootout].”
“This really is what Futsal is all about: packed to the rafters crowd, two sets of passionate supporters, the two best teams In the country going hammer and tong.
“We are on the losing end this time but what a spectacle for everyone here. The neutrals would’ve left saying how did we get to watch that entertainment for free!”
“Tonight was spectacular. The Women’s game was one of the best I’ve ever been involved, thankfully we won the premiership, and the Men’s just as entertaining and ferocious.
“Both clubs are proud, loyal and have a very healthy rivalry… and we will do all again this weekend!”
Stats a Tidbit
It was truly a tight season: four rounds featured in the league’s top-10 lowest scoring of all time and a 6.8 scoring average well below the league’s overall average 7.4 goals per match; but 27 matches (out of 56) decided by two goals or less is actually the lowest number of tight games on record despite an overall winning margin of 2.9 goals also being the lowest registered.
And the cards stayed in the referees pockets this summer – 128 bookings 17 less than last year’s previous low and five red cards half the 10 dished out last summer. The amount of cards has declined every year since 178 bookings and 15 dismissals in 2012/13.
SELECT Futsal Premier League Saturday playoffs (February 17) take place at The Centre, Dural, and feature Campbelltown Quake versus Enfield Rovers in the elimination semi-final (6.30pm) while Dural Warriors and Inner West Magic meet in a third successive major semi-final (6.30pm) – incredibly a 10th encounter in the past three seasons.