The 2016 Women’s PUMA F-League spun on a dial after Galaxy FC raided NSW with a stunning 4-1 triumph over defending champions Dural and 3-3 draw with defending premiers East Coast, while North Canberra got on the board with a maiden 4-2 win against Bayside Pirates, who earlier fell to an on-song Boomerangs 7-2.
The results have Warriors and Boomerangs level on points (12) ahead of Heat (8), Galaxy (7), South Brisbane (6) and Vipers (4) – with sides from all four states and territory in the running for a top-four national position.
East Coast Heat 3 (Erin Clout 2, Claire Walsh) Galaxy FC 3 (Jodie Bain, Mariel Hecher 2)
Boomerangs 7 (Olivia Gurney 2, Natalie De Marco 2, Alex Martens, Kate Deakin, Hayley McLachlan) Bayside Pirates 2 (Bella Carter-Madej, Stephanie Tanti)
Dural Warriors 1 (Rachel Perrins) Galaxy FC 4 (Mariel Hecher 3, Alisha Foote)
North Canberra Untouchables 4 (Brittany Palombi, Alice Churchill, Ashleigh Palombi, Rebecca Kiting) Bayside Pirates 2 (Stephanie Tanti, Bella Carter-Madej)
Heat, Galaxy stalemate
East Coast Heat and Galaxy FC battled out a tense 3-3 draw at Valentine Sports Park on Saturday evening.
The home side led 2-1 at the changeover before Galaxy hit back with a 2-1 second-half to secure a 3-3 draw – Heat’s seventh F-League stalemate in just 20 games (South Brisbane have the most with eight in 41 contests, Boomerangs have five draws in 46)
A young East Coast squad led by senior players Claire Walsh and Renee Tomkins didn’t shy away from a star-studded Galaxy line-up featuring Jodie Bain, Joanne Burgess, Gabe Marzano, Nic Laws and Brazilian marquee Mariel Hecher.
It was Heat that looked more likely to score in the opening blows, Galaxy keeper Noran Abaza holding the fort strongly for her team between the sticks; but she couldn’t stop Erin Clout from opening the scoring in the seventh minute with a beautiful right-foot strike that went through Abaza.
Clout was a stand out throughout the match, playing massive minutes and creating numerous chances for herself and her Heat counterparts, and after a barrage of Galaxy counter-attacks – denied numerous times by solid Walsh defence and Dana Buttigieg in goal for East Coast – a poorly-cleared ball to the top of the D saw Hecher make no mistake in equalising for the visitors.
Some positive Heat build-up play saw Caitlin Campbell find Clout’s feet at the top end of the court and a second goal to the East Coast target put the locals 2-1 ahead going into the break.
The second half was played in just as fast a fashion and an intercept from Galaxy defender Laws sparked a quick counter-attack and quality finish from former Heat player Bain to restore parity at 2-2.
Hecher proved to be a handful throughout the game, gliding past defenders on numerous occasions and creating many chances that a confident Buttigieg had to stop, but with two minutes to go a superb turn from Clout followed by a master pass to Walsh put East Coast 3-2 up and seemingly headed for victory.
Galaxy weren’t down and out just yet and seconds later won a freekick outside the D that Hecher powered home with precision to level an absorbing contest at 3-3.
Boomerangs overcome Pirates
Boomerangs played a smart game to fend off a spirited Bayside Pirates 7-2 at Tuggeranong Indoor Sports Centre on Saturday evening and remain in contention for this year’s title.
After an evenly-matched first half, the home team overpowered the visitors in the second term to seal their second victory over the Pirates this season.
Both teams took time to settle into their routine in a well-balanced opening period, but the Victorian debutants looked composed and threatening in the first stanza of play, despite some strong Boomerangs offence.
The Pirates opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a nicely-finished Steph Tanti goal that only seemed to spur Boomerangs into action as they responded soon after with a Natalie De Marco strike.
The home side claimed the lead minutes later when Alex Martens punished poor ball security by the Pirates in their back court, clinically beating the final defender and Pirates custodian Madeleine Nobbs for Boomerangs to lead a tight game 2-1 at the break and both sides in with a real chance to take control.
The Territorians appeared to realise this and came out of the sheds on fire led by Olivia Gurney who netted just 18 seconds after the restart and smashed a second into the back of the net moments later, De Marco adding another within a minute to set up a commanding 5-1 cushion with 15 minutes remaining in the match.
The Pirates worked hard to keep themselves in it and almost immediately forced a Boomerangs own goal, putting pressure back on to the hosts; but they couldn’t find a way to penetrate a swarming Boomerangs defence with the home team’s 17-year-old debutant keeper Eleni Haridemos also making some crucial saves.
As the clock wound down to the inevitable conclusion Boomerangs scored two more goals, Kate Deakin and Hayley McLachlan both scoring their maiden F-League goals and adding further pain to the Pirates first trip to the national capital.
Galaxy blindside Warriors
A fired-up Galaxy FC ambushed defending champions Dural 4-1 at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday morning – ending an 11-game unbeaten Warriors run.
Galaxy were on a mission and led Dural 2-0 midway through the contest and never let up, Mariel Hecher grabbing a neat hat-trick to throw a Queensland cat well and truly amongst the NSW pigeons.
North Canberra beat Bayside
North Canberra Untouchables accounted for Bayside Pirates 4-2 in a tough contest at the AIS Arena on Sunday morning.
It was a crucial match for each as both sides looked to gain some momentum with a first win of the season and plenty of chances went begging for the home side in the opening 10 minutes of the first half, denied time and time again by some brilliant shot saves from the Pirates keeper.
Untouchables struck first blood with some brilliant team play and a calmly-placed Alice Churchill finish at the edge of the circle, and it was the breakthrough North Canberra needed as they searched for and found a second minutes later through the skilful left foot of Brittany Palombi.
The goal proved to be the wake-up call Bayside needed as the young side continued to show heart and determination and were rewarded for their efforts through a Stephanie Tanti finish from a set-piece corner, taking the game to the sheds at 2-1.
Both teams started the second half in the same fashion, with some high-intensity counter-attacking play denied at both ends by some classy goalkeeping, North Canberra also hitting the woodwork on several occasions.
Some Rebecca Kiting brilliance saw her find space as she carved through the last line of Pirates defenders to knock in an Untouchables third and restore their two-goal lead, but again Bayside stepped up and combined for a very well-worked full-court team goal consisting of several passes from each player before a back-post Bella Carter-Madej finish.
North Canberra captain Ash Palombi put the game beyond doubt several minutes later grabbing a goal that ended the match at 4-2.
This week’s games
It’s a bumper women’s round of matches with Dural Warriors against North Canberra Untouchables at Dural Sport & Leisure Centre on Saturday morning (11.30am), Vic Vipers versus South Brisbane at Victoria Futsal Centre on Saturday afternoon (1pm) and Bayside Pirates tackle Galaxy FC at Caroline Springs Leisure Centre on Saturday night (7pm). On Sunday Vipers face Galaxy at Victoria Futsal Centre in the morning (9am) and Bayside meet South Brisbane at Caroline Springs Leisure Centre in the afternoon (2pm).