An old football cliché is that defence wins championships and Hills United FC could prove that right on Sunday.
Hills United FC keeper Sarah Easthope has been the cornerstone of the defence with 15 clean sheets throughout the 2023 season.
Easthope has been a top shot stopper across the years and she puts it down to how focused her team is on their duties.
“We’ve [Hills United FC] have always worked hard on our defence. It is a priority for us because if the opponent can’t score we should win.” said Easthope.
“My hope is always that I won’t get a single touch in the game which means that it is a good game for Hills United FC.”
Being tough to beat is something the side has prided themselves on and Hills United FC were a tough team to defeat in 2023.
In their sophomore year season, Hills United FC won 16 games, drew eight and only lost twice across 26 rounds to finish in third.
Easthope set a total for herself to concede 10 or less goals in the season. It ended up being 15 but it remains a phenomenal effort from the custodian.
She did all that while taking over the captaincy from Desiree Galea this season and it has been a great experience.
“It was a big role for me to take the captaincy from Desiree which is big shoes to fill. The role has made me step up as a leader and person while having the girls respect.”
The custodian is also a role model for all the goalkeepers at the club. She holds a training session for the club’s keepers from SAP all the way through to First Grade.
“My main advice is to stick to the basics because every game is different. Someone might come to me about working on a particular skill and we focus on that to improve on.”
Hills United FC needed a shootout to make their way through to the Grand Final which saw Easthope make the winning save although she had hoped to avoid it.
“I told the girls to get the game done in extra time. I don’t want to go to a shootout even though I have a perfect record in those situations between outdoor and futsal.”
Another thing that will help Hills United FC to victory is their relationship with coach Alan Tasses. Who is viewed as both their coach and friend.
“Alan [Tasses] is passionate and loves football. He is very driven and is always available for us for any help we need. He is both our coach on the field and a mate to us.”
Hills United FC were beaten in the Grand Final in 2022 so the side will be keen to go one better in 2023 with the game being shown live on NPL.TV on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday 17 September
Hills United FC vs St George FC
6:30pm, Valentine Sports Park
By Justin Davies