Defending champions Canberra Croatia took on Canberra United Academy at Deakin stadium on Sunday afternoon and showed their championship credentials with an 8-1 success, writes Matt Williams. Croatia would start the game off with intense pressure, breaking down United’s attacks and creating several chances throughout the first twenty minutes and finding their way through the Academy defence on a regular basis.
By the half-hour mark, Croatia found themselves 3-0 up, with goals to Brittany Palombi, striking a stunner from range, an own goal by Eliza Norris and a superb third from Isabella Barac. Continued dominance from the hosts meant the score would be four by half-time, the returning Dianne Wilson lobbing an impressive fourth over debutant stopper Eliza Evans who, despite conceding the goals, had a solid first outing between the posts.
The Academy started the second half in the worst way possible with Sienna Birnie adding another barely 40 seconds after the resumption. Sofia Christopherson gave the youngsters a response, the skipper scoring a goal her performance deserved in the 53rd minute, only for Croatia’s Jennifer Bisset to net her first and Croatia’s sixth moments later. The game would run away from the visitors late on, as Palombi and substitute Rhiannon Fensom added to the tally.
Canberra Olympic got off to a perfect start against a depleted Wagga City Wanderers with Nicole Begg’s championship contenders cruising to a massive 13-0 win away from home reports Jeremy Magan.
Nicole Begg’s team only needed a couple of minutes to get the first signs of a successful off-season. Meg Roden, the former Canberra United Academy player, was on hand to end Olympic’s first attack with a powerful right footed effort. Olympic’s new number 32 ended the game with a hat-trick and was not the only new recruit to put her name on the stats sheet.
Michaela Thornton (2 goals), Olivia Fogarty (2), Olivia Gurney (2) and Nicole Jalocha all scored in their first competitive game donning the new blue jersey, Jalocha doing so on her 100th NPL appearance. Taniah Miro twice, and Ali Cook from the penalty spot, joined in on the celebrations.
The new NPL powerhouse sent a message to the competition, scoring a handful more goals than their rivals, and recording the only clean sheet of the weekend to launch their campaign. The day was of course grimmer for Sam Gray and his Wanderers, before another tough match-up, at Deakin Stadium in Round 2.
Belconnen United started their WNPL season off on the right foot, defeating an embattled Tuggeranong United 5-1 at Greenway Park on Friday night writes Sonia Emmanuel.
The Blue Devils dominated the first half, cruising to a 3-1 lead, with one of their very few defensive slipups costing them their clean sheet. Keira Bobbin was the goal-hero in the first stanza. Striking twice, alongside a volley from Talia Backhouse to ensure the Blue Devils were ahead at the break, but Lauren Hall, on debut, capitalised on a defensive mishap to pull Tuggeranong back into the match just past the half-hour.
The second half started how the first ended, with Tuggeranong’s defence being pulled wide and punished. Leah Carnegie’s free-kick hit the underside of the bar, allowing Bobbin to complete her hat-trick and and crisp bottom left-hand corner finish from Carnegie herself, put the game to bed.
With devastating counterattacks led by Bobbin, Belconnen were well in control of the opening match. Belconnen coach, Scott Conlon, kicked off his new WNPL coaching role tremendously after coming up from coaching U13s in previous years. “You never know what to expect for the first game. We knew Tuggeranong had been building in the off season, more than happy to come away with the win,” Conlon said.
The Blue Devils face Gungahlin in their next match-up and Conlon is looking forward to being back on the grass fields. “We’ll have two good sessions this week and we’ll be looking forward to doing something similar next weekend.”
Tuggeranong United 1 (Hall 34’) Belconnen United 5 (Bobbin 13’, 23’, 46’, Backhouse 29’, Carnegie 67’)
Wagga City Wanderers 0 Canberra Olympic 13 (Roden 2’, 24’, 53’, Miro 12’, 17’, Thornton 19’, 36’, Jalocha 45’, Fogarty 54’, 82’, Gurney 61’, 81’, Cook 63’ (p))
Canberra Croatia 8 (Palombi 7’, 78’, Norris 12’ (og), Barac 21’, Wilson 32’, Birnie 46’, Bisset 55’, Fensom 83’) Canberra United Academy 1 (Christopherson 53’)