Belconnen United host Canberra Olympic this weekend in a rematch of the Women’s National Premier League 2022 Grand Final.
The Blue Devils have gone from strength to strength with their new signings gelling nicely, so Olympic will be preparing for a vastly different line-up this time around. Belconnen Head Coach Scott Conlon views this game as potentially season defying, even this early in the campaign, but insists his young charges are ready for the challenge.
“We believe we can take points off them immediately,” Conlon said of the Round 2 match-up. “We don’t have to wait until the end of the year to do these things.”
Conlon has been with the team for only one season but has already been quite successful, reaching the Grand Final, the Federation Cup Final, and finishing third in 2022. Last year Belconnen managed wins against everyone except this weekend’s opponent, hinting at why Conlon speaks so excitedly about facing Olympic.
“Are we looking forward to it?” he asked rhetorically. “Yeah, we can’t wait. If we get to have another five cracks at them again like we did last year, we’ll take it. The more ‘good games’ we get to play against the best in the league, the better for us.”
Conlon’s excitement for this weekend is matched throughout his team, who after comfortable wins against Gungahlin United and Tuggeranong United, the latter in the Quarter Finals of the Cup, are early favourites.
Olympic though are right behind them, beating League Champions Canberra Croatia 2-1 in their opener, where ex-Belconnen talent, Tia Burridge scored both of Olympics goals.
New singing, Bessie Riethmuller has been a standout player for the Blue Devils getting life in Blue off to a flier, grabbing five goals in two games, including a hat-trick in her first NPLW game for the club.
Riethmuller will be crucial for Belconnen this season, as she has been involved in all of their attacks so far. Very experienced for such a young player, the former Canberra United Academy player, already has a full season under her belt, and attended a camp as a young Matilda.
After scoring in all five meetings against Olympic last season, Belconnen know that one goal won’t be enough. They’ll be looking for Riethmuller to continue her goalscoring form to add more goals than they managed last season.
A result this weekend could mean a lot for Riethmuller and the team, as Conlon says he can only do so much in helping his team believe in themselves.
“Being able to get over the hurdle of beating (Olympic), which we weren’t able to do last year, will be a big thing for the players,” Conlon said.
“Because it’s one thing for us to tell them they can do it. They’ve got to believe it. We hadn’t beaten them in the season and that was the reason we couldn’t do it in the final.”
A final will be nothing short of what Belconnen are needing this season. As one of the most successful clubs in the Capital Football leagues, the northside club haven’t been as dominant in the last few years, but Conlon is adamant that they need to return to being title winners.
“We want to beat every team and win titles, whether its cups, minor premiership or grand finals, I want to get this club back on the track that is was on, for the last 15 years,” Conlon revealed.
“We’ve had a barren spell with no trophies for a couple seasons. It’s time to turn that around.”
Supporters can watch the game live at Woden Park this Saturday with kick-ff at 15:00 or go to BarTV Sports Football to catch the match live with commentary coming from Russ Gibbs and Jeremy Magan from 14:50.
WORDS: Henry Ricketts