The Macarthur Rams made it back-to-back Grand Final victories on Sunday night at Valentine Sports Park as the legendary Leena Khamis stole the show late on against Bulls FC Academy.
Khamis came on as a second half substitute and scored a late brace to secure the second straight Championship for the Rams.
It was the Rams that came out of the blocks hungry by putting the pressure on the Bulls.
They almost had the lead on 11 minutes after some neat passing, Mel Caceres threading the ball for Beth Gordon who forced Trudy Simmons into a save.
It was the Rams again threatening, this time a cross coming in from Olivia Sloan from the left, Kelli Brown the target but unable to steer her header goalwards.
India Breier then found space on the edge of the area 10 minutes from half time but she got the shot all wrong.
Things started heating up on the pitch as the Rams saw three players booked in the final five minutes of the half.
Deep in first half stoppage time, Simmons was alert again as Caceres blasted an effort toward the top corner, the veteran keeper somehow tipping the ball out.
The resulting corner saw Madison McComasky rise highest in the area, only for the ball to be cleared off the line.
The second half started very even with neither side creating a clear cut chance until we hit the hour mark.
A Beth Gordon deflected pass bounced into the path of Brown as the prolific striker drove a low shot toward the far corner, the ball going inches wide.
Shortly after, Khamis entered the fray with 25 minutes left on the clock.
Finally, the Bulls had an opportunity with 15 minutes to go as Tamires Souza showed fantastic technique to beat her defender but unable to trouble Khamis who saved comfortably.
With 8 minutes to go, the Rams hit the front as the crowd exploded.
Tenealle Hay showed why she earnt her way back to the top tier, chasing down Claudia Valetta before delivering an inch perfect cross into the box for Khamis who showed fine composure to bury her effort.
Not long after and Khamis turned provider, feeding in Brown who was stopped by Simmons who again made a good save.
As the Bulls pushed for an equaliser, the Rams extinguished any hope with a second goal.
As she has for many years, Khamis had another with a fantastic header, rising highest in the box to head home a delightful Brown delivery.
A Ram through and through, it was a fairytale finish to the game as one of the greatest strikers to ply their trade in the top flight showed she isn’t ready for retirement yet.
Khamis almost made it a hat trick late on but wasn’t able to find the back of the net on that occasion.
It was also a special moment for Stephen Peters who not only made it two straight grand final wins but also helped the Rams break Sydney University’s record of 18 undefeated games, taking their streak to 19 now.
Bulls FC Academy 0
Macarthur Rams 2 (Khamis 82’, 87’)
Sunday, 17, September, 2023
Valentine Sports Park
Bulls FC Academy: 1. Simmons, 3. Grey, 4. Seaman, 5. Lancaster (8. Rutstein), 7. Prakash, 9. Chessari, 10. Souza, 11. Valletta, 13. Di Sciascio, 17. Volkanovski (12. Corry), 19. Cheeseman (Gyzen).
Substitutes Not Used: 21. Segavcic, 22. Popovic.
Macarthur Rams: 1. S. Khamis, 3. McComasky, 10. Caceres (20. Duggan), 14. Sunaga (9. L. Khamis), 17. Breier (28. M. Malone),19. Sloan (Barton), 22. Huynh, 25. D. Malone, 32. Gordon, 35. Hay, 44. Brown (8. Dipple).
Substitutes Not Used: 21. Clarke.
Referee: Mikayla Ryan
Assistant Referees: Alexis Johnson and Lara Hogan
Fourth Official: Isabella Mossin
By Nikola Pozder