The West Canberra Lightning will meet the North Canberra Fire in the Women’s Capital Futsal League Grand Final after both came through their respective semi-final matches in raucous fashion at Daramalan College.
The North Canberra Fire were first to book their ticket, defeating the UC Stars 6-4 in a thriller that saw the Fire lead by five clear goals until a late Stars comeback forced a nervy ending.
An early goal from Maddie Steinacker got the Stars off to a flying start, the youngster advancing onto a pass and turning away from Michaela Thornton to fire into the net off the base of the post to give her team the early lead.
But the Fire responded superbly and were level within two minutes as Thornton’s accurate delivery was superbly volleyed past Vanessa Burdett by Elke Aitolu, the Fire star showing sensational technique to draw her team level.
The team that finished the season second on the ladder were ahead after a dozen minutes. Bessie Riethmuller, their leading scorer, finishing a fast-paced move with a composed slot into the net.
And two became three before the interval as Natalie De Marco struck from distance, the ball squirming beneath Burdett to cross the line. The Stars, however, could consider themselves unfortunate having hit the woodwork three times in the opening twenty minutes of action.
Natalie De Marco increased the lead, before May Osmond struck into a gaping goal after the Stars were reduced in number as Eliza-Jane Norris was sent-off for handball preventing a Fire goal. A stunning goal to complete her hat-trick from Natalie De Marco had the Fire home and hosed before a late flurry from UC got them back into it, but to no avail.
A three-goal blitz in six second half minutes sent the West Canberra Lightning into the decider as they held off the fourth placed South Canberra Swift to win their clash 3-2 in dramatic fashion.
The underdog Swift were resilient in defence and exhilarating in attack in a first-half that did not trouble the scorers. Lightning enjoyed the majority of possession and struck the crossbar via a thunderous effort from Jamie Berkeley, but it was Swift who had the better moments.
Kailey Tonini was forced into a couple of smart saves in the Lightning goal, one particular dipping shot from Ginger Oliver stinging the palms of the Lightning goalkeeper. At the other end, the absence of joint Golden Boot winner Brittany Palombi, the Lightning attack looked a little less fluid.
Emily Pearce, in goals for Swift, was in no mood to give up a clean sheet lightly and, of the respective coaching staff, it was the South Canberra group who arguably the happier of the two at the break.
It was the Swift who took the lead two minutes into the second half when Sophia Doumos struck, but it was Lightning who hit back, striking thrice through a double from Rebecca Kiting sandwiching an 18th of the campaign for Jennifer Bisset.
Ginger Oliver pounced on a mistake to reduce the gap with four minutes remaining, but the Lightning held on to win.
Friday 10 February
West Canberra Lightning 3 (Kiting 24’, 30’, Bisset 29’) South Canberra Swift 2 (Doumos 22’, Oliver 36’)
North Canberra Fire 6 (Aitolu 4’, Riethmuller 12’, N. De Marco 16’, 32’, 32’, Osmond 30’) UC Stars 4 (Steinacker 2’, Daniel 35’, Yuen 35’, Rizzo 40’)
Sunday 12 February
West Canberra Lightning v North Canberra Fire
(Daramalan College, 16:00)
18 Jennifer BISSET (Lightning)
17 Brittany PALOMBI (Lightning) Bessie RIETHMULLER (Fire)
14 Stella DE MARCO (Fire)
13 Reilly YUEN (Stars)
10 Natalie DE MARCO (Fire), Rebecca KITING (Lightning),Becky RIZZO (Stars), Own GOALS
9 Sheridan MCELLIGOTT (Apex), Amy MCLACHLAN (Lightning)
8 Roxie SWART (Apex)
7 Emily DANIEL (Stars), Maya OSMOND (Fire), Sofia PALYWODA (Swift), Nikita PERRY (Fire)
6 Cara CERUTI (Swift), Krista HAGEN (Lightning), Nicole JALOCHA (Fire), Eliza-Jane NORRIS (Stars), Alexandra SERRAS (Apex)
5 Tayla HAMPSON (Stars), Ginger OLIVER (Swift), Samantha PRICE (Swift), Sabrina TOUFEXIS (Swift), Mikayla VAN DEYK (Stars), Dianne WILSON (Lightning)
4 Justine ARMSTRONG (Power), Talia BACKHOUSE (Swift), Jamie BERKELEY (Lightning), Madeleine STEINACKER (Stars)
3 Alissa BARBOUR (Fire), Tia BURRIDGE (Fire), Maia CAMERON (Power), Kaitlyn COLWILL (Swift), Grace DAVEY (Apex), Isabella HINDMARSH (Swift), Renee KITE (Power), Lauren QUACH (Power), Kate WALKER (Stars)
2 Elke AITOLU (Fire), Leah CARNEGIE (Swift), Jada LAMOND (Fire), Cassia MCGLASHAN (Stars), Shayma TAWEEL (Apex)
1 Sophia DOUMOS (Swift), Phoebe FRASER (Apex), Emily JENSEN (Apex), Sally KISS (Power), Stefi LEJINS (Fire), Holly MCPHERSON (Power), Karen MILEWSKA (Apex), Clare MOLONY (Apex), Erika PENNYFIELD (Lightning), Michaela THORNTON (Fire)