You couldn’t ask for a better 2016 Women’s PUMA F-League campaign with Queensland sides Galaxy and South Brisbane cleaning up in the ACT with four wins from four games, while Vic Vipers split their NSW road trip to set up a points ladder traffic jam.
Dural have a slender one point lead over the northerners (but have played one more game) and their 17 competition points is under siege from Galaxy (16), South Brisbane (16), Boomerangs (12) and the Vics (10), with 2015 premiers East Coast (8) also lurking.
The Golden Boot is just as riveting and widespread as Vipers ace Ceyda Cambaz (11), Galaxy’s Mariel Hecher (10), Boomerangs’ Olivia Gurney (10) and South Brisbane’s Sarah Amorim (9) lead the way.
And what more can be said as to how evenly-matched the Women’s F-League has evolved. Over four hot winters a whopping 57% of 167 matches have been decided by two goals or less (a quarter have been one-goal contests).
North Canberra Untouchables 1 (Erika Pennyfield) Galaxy FC 7 (Ashleigh Bucknall, Gabrielle Zgrajewski, Mariel Hecher, Lorena Maggio 2, Alisha Foote)
Dural Warriors 5 (Jessica Elliott, Sarah Yatim, Tara Pender, Samantha Nagy 2) Vic Vipers 2 (Ceyda Cambaz, Amy Dahdah)
Boomerangs FS 5 (Michaela Day, Olivia Gurney 3, Kate Deakin) South Brisbane 7 (Sarah Amorim, Nicola Eagle 3, Rebekah Horsey, Natalie Tathem, Melissa Weckert)
East Coast Heat 2 Vic Vipers 4
North Canberra Untouchables 4 (Brittany Palombi, Madelyn Whittall 2) South Brisbane 7 (Sarah Amorim 2, Nicola Eagle 2, Sofie Persson, Natalie Tathem)
Boomerangs FS 2 (Olivia Gurney 2) Galaxy FC 3 (Charlotte Boyes, Mariel Hecher, Lorena Maggio)
Galaxy cover Untouchables
Galaxy FC burned North Canberra Untouchables 7-1 in the Saturday matinee at a frosty AIS Training Halls.
It was a fresh minus-four degree early morning Canberra start for the Queensland visitors who wasted no time in showing their dominance in a game they’d come so far to play.
After both teams traded shots, held out by some quality goalkeeping at each end, Galaxy drew first blood and added another before halftime to lead 2-0.
North Canberra struggled to get out of first gear in the second half and a powerful Galaxy continued their strong charge netting a further five goals to win by six, Lorena Maggio scoring a double while Erika Pennyfield bagged the Untouchables goal.
Warriors overcome Vipers
Dural Warriors did it the hard way coming from two goals down at halftime to beat Vic Vipers 5-2 at Dural Sport & Leisure Centre on Saturday afternoon.
Ceyda Cambaz and Amy Dahdah strikes lifted the visitors to a shock two-goal lead midway through the contest, but a Samantha Nagy second-half double and goals to Jessica Elliott, Sarah Yatim and Tara Pender guided the Warriors home to a much-needed victory.
South Brisbane beat Boomerangs
South Brisbane held off a spirited Boomerangs 7-5 at a refurbished AIS Training Halls on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors capitalised on several defensive lapses from the home side to launch back into premiership contention – the 12-goal melee fifth in terms of highest women’s game scores and eight different scorers one short of the record.
Up until the eighth-minute the match appeared as though it would be a low-scoring tightly-fought arm-wrestle between two determined and skilful teams, but South Brisbane broke the deadlock with a nice play finished off by Sarah Amorim and the floodgates opened as the visitors added another two in quick succession to lead 3-0 in the blink of an eye.
A Boomerangs time-out brought focus back to the players and Kate Deakin’s powerful shot from outside the D dragged back some momentum to the home team but South Brisbane still headed into the sheds leading by 4-2.
Boomerangs came out with a more steely determination in the second half and were rewarded on the half-hour with a goal to their captain Michaela Day halving the deficit, only for South Brisbane to reply almost immediately and retain their two goal margin.
The Queenslanders pounced on a couple more defensive errors to lead 7-3 and although Boomerangs set-piece specialist Olivia Gurney converted two 10m spotkicks to complete her hat-trick it was too little, too late and South Brisbane won 7-5, Nicola Eagle netting three times for the victors.
Vipers strike Heat
An inspired Vic Vipers claimed a stunning 4-2 victory over East Coast Heat at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday evening to leave both clubs teetering on the top-four edge.
It was the Vics’ first win over East Coast and their first victory in 11 trips to NSW, but both sides need to push to rein in a top-four finish.
South Brisbane break North Canberra
South Brisbane overran North Canberra in an enthralling contest at the AIS Training Halls on Sunday morning that also produced a major Women’s F-League milestone.
North Canberra came out desperate for a win following their earlier defeat to Galaxy and they pushed South Brisbane all the way, a 20m Brittany Palombi bomb on the halftime buzzer elevating Untouchables to a 2-1 halftime edge.
But as the Canberra frost started to lift South Brisbane warmed up in the second half powering their way through the NCU defence on several occasions and netting six times to run away with the match and take all three points.
Maddy Whittall bagged a well-earned brace for North Canberra while Sarah Amorim and Nicola Eagle scored their own pairs for South Brisbane.
The final scorer in this match also notched up the 1000th Women’s F-League goal.
Galaxy edge Boomerangs
Galaxy FC stunned Boomerangs FS with a cheeky 3-2 victory at Lyneham Hockey Centre on Sunday morning.
Galaxy opened the scoring with a sixth-minute goal slammed home on angle by Mariel Hecher but Boomerangs hit straight back through set-piece sniper Olivia Gurney to send the teams into halftime locked at 1-1.
The second half featured end-to-end high-quality intense Futsal with great keeping efforts from Jessica Giovinazzo (Boomerangs) and Noran Abaza (Galaxy) keeping the scoreline undisturbed until Gurney made a real offensive difference with yet another spotkick conversion putting the home side a 2-1 ahead midway through the term.
With the game in the balance and pressure and momentum swings frequent it was the Queenslanders who capitalised better when they levelled it up four minutes from the end and then scored again with just a minute left to play to take out a highly-entertaining quality Futsal match 3-2.
It was just the fourth time Boomerangs have lost a one-goal result in 15 close-call contests, while Galaxy’s stunning debut season rolls on – their 71% success rate in seven opening runs only bettered by Parramatta Blues (80%). Melbourne Heart (60%) and Sydney Scorpions (57%) were next best.
This week’s games
It’s a massive 2016 Women’s PUMA F-League weekend with Boomerangs FS and North Canberra Untouchables playing the ACT derby at the AIS Training Halls on Friday night (8.15pm), followed on Saturday by Galaxy FC versus East Coast Heat at Logan Metro Sports Centre (11.30am), Boomerangs against Vic Vipers at the AIS Training Halls (12pm), while South Brisbane tackle East Coast at Logan Metro Sports Centre in the afternoon (3pm).
On Sunday morning North Canberra face Vipers at the AIS Training Halls (9am) and Galaxy meet South Brisbane in the first-ever women’s Queensland derby at Eagle Sports Complex (10am).