Sydney University Soccer Football Club collected the NPL Women’s Challenge Cup trophy for a second straight season after a pulsating 3-2 result against Belconnen United at Valentine Sports Park.
The NPL NSW Womens champions were forced to dig deep after conceding right on half-time but coach Alex Epakis challenged his side during the break and they came out firing. Julie-Ann Russell and Nickoletta Flannery put them in the lead then after being pegged back again, substitute Cortnee Vine thrashed home a winner to round off a wonderful season for the Students.
For Belconnen United, they battled hard and were on the back foot much of the first half. Retiring star Caitlin Munoz provided a moment of class with her back-heel finish to hand them the lead. Jessie Rasschaert swept to bring it back to 2-2 but the traveling side were unable find a third to send Munoz and coach Antoni Jagarinec out winners.
The hosts were the dominant side in the first half, and had the first chance when Nickoletta Flannery tried to loop a header which flew over the goal.
Flannery continued to be a pest for the Belconnen United defense. She latched onto a cutback then challenged Belconnen United keeper Sally James with a shot that was pushed wide. Uni continued to push it into the wide areas to fashion chances against the Capital Football side.
Belconnen had their best chance of the first half when Catherine Brown lofted a pass into the path of Caitlin Munoz. The veteran striker flicked the ball up for herself before she thrashed a volley wide of the goal.
Next Kiera Bobbin found a pocket of space on the edge of the box, the Belconnen United attacker cut inside then fired a shot straight into the grasp of Sydney University Soccer Football Club keeper Courtney Newbon.
Flannery had a pair of chances late in the first half, first she combined well with Julie-Ann Russell before she sent a shot wide. Her second effort was a sublime touch from the attacker to send her on goal but again, her shot was saved.
The visitors hit Sydney University with a sucker punch right on the break. Brown was in the thick of the action again, with a wonderful cutback for Munoz to back-heel home for 1-nil right on the stroke of half-time.
Coming out of the break, Sydney University struck in the 47th minute. Charlotte McLean’s cushioned a pass into the path of Russell, the striker, who recently was recalled to the Irish national side, fired home to make it 1-1.
Sydney University doubled their delight in the 51st minute through Flannery. The Students passed the ball through the Belconnen defense then Flannery was there to tap home, comeback complete for Sydney University, 2-1.
Not ready to concede defeat, Belconnen United had a thunderous effort from Alexia Forner that was saved by Newbon. The following corner created a scramble around the goalmouth which Jessie Rasschaert swept home for 2-2.
Pegged back again, Sydney University continued to probe the Belconnen United defense but were unable to find a way through as the match started to stretch. Both sides looking for the final goal to be crowned Challenge Cup champions.
It came in the 83rd minute to Sydney University. McLean beat two defenders on the left side before the ball was slammed home by substitute Cortnee Vine, 3-2. They saw out the final moments and secured back-to-back Challenge Cup successes.
Speaking afterwards Sydney University Soccer Football Club coach Alex Epakis reflected on the wonderful second half performance from his side to round off what has been a big season for the Students:
“I told them that I didn’t expect them to hit the ground running. I challenged to find that extra gear and attack the wide areas.
“After the game, I told them I was over the moon.”
On Julie-Ann Moore, “she is a calm head in our side. She can play all across the front line and showed that tonight. She got a recall to the Irish side and that is a testament to get skill and I love coaching her.”
For departing Belconnen United coach Antoni paid tribute to his side, the concept and fellow departee Caitlin Munoz for her contribution to Capital Football down the years.
“I think it was a sensational game.
“The intensity across the 90 minutes and help Women’s football.
“Contests like this are wonderful thing for women’s football. It’s no secret we defended most of the contest and conceded three goals.” Said
“It’s been a great time. I’ve been at the club 10 or 11 years and they’re a great group of girls that I hope stick around. It is fitting that it was also the last game for Caitlin Munoz.
“She has been a stalwart to the game, a foundation member of Canberra United and showed her quality with the goal.”
Saturday 21 September 2019
Valentine Sports Park
Sydney University Soccer Football Club 3 (Russell ‘47, Flannery ‘51, Vine ‘83)
Belconnen United FC 2 (Munoz ‘45, Rasschaert ‘60)
Sydney University Soccer Football Club: 5. KING Taren, 6. WHEELER Claire, 8. GALIC Bianca, 10. CACERES Melissa (23. CASPERS ‘55), 11. RUSSELL Julie-Ann, 12. MORGAN Sarah (28. Johnson ‘85), 13. MCLEAN Charlotte, 17. FLANNERY Nickoletta (18. TRIMBOLI ‘76), 19. COLVILL Aoife (9. VINE ‘55), 21. NEWBON Courtney (1. MAGUS ‘90), 33. TUMETH TorI
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil
Belconnen United: 2. WOODMAN Katie, 4. PYKE Bronte, 5. RASSCHAERT Jessie, 6. MUNOZ Caitlin (7. CARNEGIE ‘90), 8. DAY Michaela, 9. BROWN Catherine, 10. FORNER Alexia (11. PACHI ‘78), 12. JALOCHA Nicole, 13. CLARKE Karen, 14. BOBBIN Kiera, 20. JAMES Sally
Unused subs: 3. DAVIS Rihannon, 15. HEDDITCH Stephanie, 16. ZABEL Jazmine
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)