It wouldn’t be the top tier of women’s football if the final day of competition wasn’t drama filled and round 22 didn’t disappoint.
With five teams assured of final football, it was a battle for places three through to five.
The Northern Tigers would steal third place in a snatch and grab come back win, while the Spartans secured fourth spot and the Stingrays dropped to fifth.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
Sydney University 2-0 Illawarra Stingrays
Having already secured the Premiership the week prior, the final game of the season was just a formality for Sydney University as they recorded another win over the Illawarra Stingrays.
A goal in each half for Alex Epakis’ side was enough to sweeten Premiership celebrations post game.
It isn’t to say the Stingrays didn’t have their own chances with both goal keepers pulling off fantastic saves throughout the fixture.
It was the away side that started the better though and Courtney Newbon was called into action.
Blaize Kendis hit a flat, powerful free kick from the edge of the area, forcing the Uni keeper into a low one handed save.
From the resulting corner, Caitlin Cooper should’ve made it 1-0 but the ball arrived to quickly at her as her effort went over the bar.
And do as they have, Uni took advantage of their first opportunity.
Clare Wheeler received the ball from a far distant out before cracking a snap shot toward goal, catching Trudy Burke out and finding the bottom right corner.
Burke may have seen the ball late but it shouldn’t take anything away from the midfielder’s finish.
Uni’s midfielders were in the mood and Bianca Galic soon tried her own luck, volleying just wide of Burke’s post.
Burke was called into action once more late in the first half, this time to tip over the bar a cross come shot by Annabelle Martin.
As the second period got underway, again it was the away side who had the first opportunity.
Talitha Kramer got on the end of a fine Hannah Beard free kick, only to head onto the post.
Beard her self was in with a fantastic opportunity but Courtney Newbon made a fantastic one-on-one save.
The clearance found its way straight to Chloe Middleton with the whole goal to to aim at but the winger couldn’t find the target, hitting the ball over the bar.
At the other end, the Students weren’t so forgiving.
Holy Caspers made a great run and was rewarded for it with a fine ball. She took her shot early and surprised Burke as the ball came off the upright and into the goal.
Doubling their lead, the game completely opened up.
First Beard forced Newbon into another fingertip save before Aofie Colvil almost made it 3-0 for the home team.
Substitute Julie Vignes for Burke into an incredible save as the game drew to a close.
The loss saw the Stingrays drop to fifth as Uni has a week off in the play offs.
Manly United 2-0 Emerging Jets
Manly United finished the season off in style with a 2-0 win over the Emerging Jets.
A goal in either half was enough for the home team to take all three points.
Emily Minett and Sophie Nenadovic were the goal scorers for United.
Manly finished the season in ninth, the Jets in 11th.
Bankstown City 3-4 Northern Tigers
Definitely the match of the day as the Northern Tigers secured third place and a dramatic win in the dying minutes against Bankstown City.
It was the home team that got off to a flyer as Monica Nolevski headed them in front inside the first 150 seconds.
Vesna Milivojevic then double the home teams lead with minutes left in the first half.
The Tigers reacted immediately after the break with Daisy Arrowsmith cutting the deficit from the spot.
Not long passed when Beth Bernardi had the Tigers level.
Almost from kick off, the home side were back in front, again through Bankstown star Milivojevic who scored a special goal.
With the Tigers set to finish in fifth spot, the table turned in the final five minutes.
First Maddie Bart tapped in from a metre out before Arrowsmith completed the remarkable turnaround in the 90th minute with her own very special goal.
Bankstown should’ve equalised in the 92nd minute but Eliza Campbell made an incredible triple save to give her side all three points.=
Macarthur Rams 5-2 FNSW Institute
It was a dead rubber at Lynwood Park but that didn’t stop the Macarthur Rams finishing the season in style.
They took a 2-0 lead into half time against the young Football NSW Institute team.
There were five more goals in the second 45 but the home team held out to come away 5-2 victors.
North Shore Mariners 0-2 Blacktown Spartans
The Blacktown Spartans completed a fine come back in the season to finish in fourth spot after victory against the North Shore Mariners.
Ash Crofts had the away side in front early in the first half as they took that lead into the break.
Crofts grabbed her second after the break to record a 2-0 victory for the Spartans.
Sydney Olympic 2-3 NWS Koalas
The North West Sydney Koalas showed their quality on Sunday, defeating Sydney Olympic 3-2.
Amy Sayer opened the scoring with a neat finish after a Princess Ibini cross.
It was soon 2-0 as Sayer once more was the star, her shot coming off the cross bar before hitting the back of the net.
Georgia Plessas then halved the deficit with a good finish of her own beyond Romina Parraguirre.
The Koalas restored their two-goal advantage through Ariella Cabezas and went into half time 3-1 up.
Olympic pushed in the second half and found a goal through Sarah Yatim but that would be as close as they got.
By – Nikola Pozder, NPL NSW Women’s Writer