A second half penalty from Caitlin Munoz was enough to push Belconnen United to a win in the 2018 Women’s Federation Cup Final on Saturday.
United came into the game against the Canberra United Academy as the form team of the season and still undefeated, but it was the visitors who got on the front foot early and did most of the attacking at McKellar Park.
The youngsters were causing trouble down the wings while Karly Roestbakken and Laura Hughes looked to make things tick through the middle, and they found a way through only 19 minutes in.
Isabel Mulhall was fed the ball on the left wing and nonchalantly drifted inside her defender along the top of the 18-yard area before curling her shot towards the far corner. Nat Lacey reached the shot but could not get her weight behind it, and only managed to tip it into the net as the Academy drew first blood.
That was the start the visitors needed but it also prompted the home side into action as Belconnen appeared to step up a gear. A set piece 10 minutes after the goal nearly gave them the opener as Isobel Davy was unable to get a clean grip on the ball in a big pack, but Munoz’s shot on the turn cannoned off the post and was cleared by the desperate Academy defense.
They continued to threaten from set pieces, particularly from out in wide areas and were pinning the Academy back well as the half wore on. The visitors looked to play out on the break but too often were let down by the final ball, and their high defensive line was caught out by Belconnen on the stroke of half-time.
Munoz lofted a perfectly weighted through ball over the top from midfield that Maddy Whittall raced on to, and she fought off her defender before slipping the ball past Davy and into the net to ensure her side reclaimed parity at the half-time break.
In the second half it was United who came out of the blocks strongest and they looked to attack early but struggled to create clear cut chances and the Academy held their own initially.
Sally James, on for Davy at the break, looked go early in goals, but was powerless to intervene when the hosts were awarded a penalty 22 minutes in as Munoz was judged to have been obstructed in the penalty area.
Munoz made no mistake from the spot to give her side a lead, and shortly after the Academy had a shout for a spot-kick turned down at the other end as the pace of the game quickened.
Despite late pressure United were able to hold on, and grab their second trophy of the season as they head towards the finals series.