The second instalment of the National Premier League Women’s Challenge Cup was played in Sydney over the weekend, and it continues to forge a path towards a nationwide women’s football tournament.
While the FFA Cup and NPL Finals Series are held for male teams across Australia, there is no such competition in place for the country’s top female sides.
But the joint Capital Football and Football NSW run Challenge Cup is laying the platform for the introduction of such competitions, and is proving that ACT teams can match it with the best from NSW.
The second edition of the Challenge Cup saw Belconnen United, Premiers of ACT, go up against Sydney University, champions of NSW.
And, for the second year in a row, the Blue Devils came up agonisingly short, losing 3-2 in the dying stages of the match at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday afternoon.
But despite the result, Belconnen captain Lauren Keir says the Challenge Cup is a fantastic initiative by Capital Football and Football NSW.
“The Challenge Cup was a great experience for the girls,” Keir said.
“We’ve played against W-League players in Canberra, but to play against W-League players on a team from Sydney was a big step up, and I think we showed we can match it with them.
“Hopefully other teams get on board next year, and it can lead to something bigger [like an FFA Cup].”
After a tight opening to the match, retiring midfielder Caitlin Munoz gave Belconnen a 1-0 lead on the stroke of half-time, as she flicked home a classy back-heel from close range.
Two quick goals following the break propelled Sydney University into the lead, before Jessie Rasschaert drove in one of her trademark headers to draw the Blue Devils level with 30-minutes to play.
But, with time ticking down, Sydney University substitute Cortnee Vine found the back of the net in the 83rd minute to lift her side to a 3-2 win.
The match was also the last for legendary coach Antoni Jagarinec, who called time on his career following Belconnen’s ninth straight Premiership earlier in the season.