Canberra Olympic claimed their first ever Federation Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 win over a fast-finishing Belconnen United in front of a raucous set of travelling supporters at Deakin Stadium on a cold Saturday afternoon.
A brace of goals at either end of the first half ultimately proved to be decisive for Olympic who, favoured as they were to claim the silverware, were made to work for the entirety of the ninety minutes by a youthful Blue Devils team who no doubt will be back for more in future years.
They were forced to respond to an early setback as the conceded after only ninety seconds of the contest. Karen Clarke, placed in between the posts in the absence of regular ‘keeper Jayla Murphy, was called into action early, blocking a fierce drive from Meg Roden from the edge of the penalty area.
Unfortunately for Clarke, and those of a light blue persuasion, the ball fell straight to the feet of Tianah Miro, later to be named player of the match, who made no mistake in rifling in the loose ball for the opening goal of the match.
The Blue Devils responded well with their young central defensive partnership of Sofia Doumos and Lauren Preston excellent in repelling an experienced Olympic forward line, whilst Ella Palframan and Sofia Palywoda worked hard in midfield to gain a foothold.
The critical moment in the match came on the cusp of half-time as Olympic made it 2-0 with a brilliantly worked goal. Nicole Jalocha provided it, swinging in a devilish cross that was met by Vanessa Ryan arriving unchecked at the back post. Ryan’s looping header was perfectly placed over Clarke and into the corner of the net.
Belconnen needed a way back into the game and Head Coach Scott Conlon turned to his bench to provide the necessary impetus. Reilly Yuen twice went close, one curling effort cannoning back off the crossbar after dipping late to deceive Janet King in the Olympic goal, whilst a volley off the knee also made sure King was alert.
They finally found a way past the Olympic shot-stopper with nineteen minutes remaining as another substitute, Pearl Tein, got on the end of a free-kick to clip a delightful finish over the advancing King for 2-1.
That made for a nervy finale for the favourites but, despite the best efforts of Belconnen, they were unable to find a way through for the equaliser as Olympic held on to create club history.
Canberra Olympic 2 (Miro 2’, Ryan 45’) Belconnen United 1 (Tein 71’)
Canberra Olympic: 1. Janet KING, 5. Sarah JOHNSTON, 6. Vanessa RYAN (4. Olivia FOGARTY 45’), 8. Michaela THORNTON, 9. Elke AITOLU, 13. Meg RODEN (21. Arusha CHEW 66’), 17. Nicole JALOCHA, 23. Victoria JAMIESON (10. Katrina PERIC 88’), 30. Tianah MIRO, 33. Renee JUNNA, 34. Ali COOK
Belconnen United: 1. Karen CLARKE, 2. Lauren PRESTON, 4. Sofia DOUMOS, 7. Steffi LEJINS, 8. Sofia PALYWODA, 9. Talia BACKHOUSE, 10. Olivia BOMFORD (12. Tia BURRIDGE 85’), 11. Keira BOBBIN, 13. Tatum MAZIS (22. Reilly YUEN 59’), 15. Leah CARNEGIE (17. Bianca KIMPTON 59’), 16. Ella PALFRAMAN (21. Pearl TEIN 68’)
Canberra Olympic: 17. Nicole JALOCHA 30’, 5. Sarah JOHNSTON 70’, 8. Michaela THORNTON 84’
Belconnen United: 7. Steffi LEJINS 73’
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: 30. Tianah MIRO (Canberra Olympic)
Referee: Scott BOON
Assistant Referees: Lara SMITH, Alexandra MACKAY
Fourth Official: Aisha STRUTT