The 2016 Women’s PUMA F-League season took a remarkable twist with Queensland sides Galaxy and South Brisbane racing to the top of the table, as Vic Vipers drew both their ACT games, East Coast lost both their Queensland games and Boomerangs beat North Canberra in the local derby.
South Brisbane (22) head Galaxy (19), Dural (17), Boomerangs (16), with the Vics (12) and 2015 premiers East Coast (8) needing to put their foot down if they want to figure in the finals.
The Golden Boot race is burning as Vipers ace Ceyda Cambaz (16 goals – already the third-highest women’s season total behind Jodie Bain’s 18-goal effort for Parramatta Blues in 2013 and 17 East Coast goals last year), Galaxy’s Mariel Hecher (13 – fifth highest) and Boomerangs striker Olivia Gurney (11) continue to be stalked by quadruple South Brisbane threat Sarah Amorim (11), Melissa Weckert (11), Sofie Persson (9) and Rebekah Horsey (8).
And just a cheeky throwback, it can’t go unmentioned that Horsey’s five-goal haul against Bayside Pirates a fortnight ago is the second-highest individual F-League tally (Dural’s Sarah Yatim scored six against Capital FC last year and Pirates weapon Steph Tanti bagged five against Vipers while playing for Melbourne Heart in 2013).
Leading scorer Cambaz is having a stellar season (16 of her 25 national-league goals coming this year) and recent four-goal hauls against Bayside Pirates and South Brisbane is challenging Jodie Bain’s longstanding seasonal hat-trick record of three Parramatta Blues triples in 2013. Star Galaxy import Mariel Hecher also has two winter triples.
More extraordinary has been Cambaz’s rise up the F-League charts to become third-highest women’s scorer behind Bain (41) and Yatim (31). South Brisbane’s Natalie Tathem, Heat’s Nikola Orgill and Tanti are locked with Cambaz on 25 goals, closely followed by Dural’s Rachel Perrins (24), Doris Osman (23), Renee Tomkins (22) and Amorim (22).
Spreading the love to the capital, Boomerangs gun Olivia Gurney’s four braces this season is just shy of North Canberra rival Rebecca Kiting’s six doubles for Capital FC last year (Galaxy’s Hecher also has four this winter). Bain holds the ultimate record of 11 assembled couples, three more than Dural dynamos Perrins and Yatim.
A big nod to Galaxy, a fearless national-league initiation has seen 12 different players score for the Queensland debutants in just nine starts (joining East Coast 2015 and Sydney Scorpions 2013 with a dozen scorers), and at a phenomenal record-rate of 4.2 goals per game. Their up-front potency betters everyone: Parramatta Blues (3.9), Inner West (3.7), South Brisbane (3.5), East Coast (3.3), Dural (3.2) and Boomerangs (3.1).
There’s no hiding Galaxy’s brightest star with menace Hecher conjuring up 13 goals in only eight league appearances! Few rival that outburst – Moreny Chek netted twice in two Vipers 2013 matches, Monnique Hansen Kofoed scored six goals in six South Brisbane games, while (currently) Melissa Weckert’s bagged 11 in nine South Brisbane outings and team-mate Sofie Persson 10 goals in nine runs – but none match the longevity of Sarah Yatim’s 31 strikes in 27 league bouts and Jodie Bain’s incredible 41 goals in 39 fixtures (at four different clubs).
Speaking of, ahem, border-protection [Ed: it’s still election week], neighbours Galaxy FC and South Brisbane have built a northern wall that’d even keep out Game of Thrones hero Jon Snow, suffering just a solitary loss in 15 collective Queensland matches, South Brisbane losing to Dural in the opening 2014 fixture – no other F-League club has won there since.
Boomerangs FS 3 (Michaela Day, Alex Martens 2) North Canberra Untouchables 1 (Alice Churchill)
Galaxy FC 5 (Mackenzie Douglas, Ashleigh Bucknall, Charlotte Boyes, Mariel Hecher 2) East Coast Heat 0
Boomerangs FS 2 (Natalie De Marco, Olivia Gurney) Vic Vipers 2 (Ceyda Cambaz, Rhianna Pollicina)
South Brisbane 7 (Shannon Tathem, Natalie Tathem, Sofie Persson, Melissa Weckert 2, Rebekah Horsey, Sarah Amorim) East Coast Heat 3 (Caitlin Campbell 2, Alexia Guerinoni)
North Canberra Untouchables 3 (Grace Field, Rebecca Kiting, Brittany Palombi) Vic Vipers 3 (Ceyda Cambaz, Rhianna Pollicina 2)
Galaxy FC 2 (Georgina Bridges, Mariel Hecher) South Brisbane 7 (Sofie Persson 3, Melissa Weckert, Sarah Amorim, Natalie Tathem, Rebekah Horsey)
Boomerangs down Untouchables
Boomerangs FS battled their way to a 3-1 victory over noisy neighbours North Canberra Untouchables at a crowded AIS Training Halls on Friday night.
The game promised intensity worthy of a match to claim the title of best Canberra F-League team – with form and ladder position mattering little.
A fast and furious, punishing start failed to produce a goal until the 15th minute when Alex Martens slotted one past Untouchables keeper Sophie Rolfe for Boomerangs to take first blood.
With 90 seconds remaining in the opening period Boomerangs captain Michaela Day slammed home in the top corner from distance to give her team a 2-0 halftime lead.
The intensity lifted in the second half as North Canberra worked hard to get back into the match, but repeated forays up court couldn’t produce the result they were after.
Martens goaled from distance for Boomerangs midway through the second half to make the three-goal task that much harder for Untouchables, but not long after Alice Churchill pulled one back for North Canberra and their efforts to drag back some momentum was met by some rock-solid defence with the match ending 3-1 in the Boomerangs favour.
Galaxy wipe Heat
Galaxy FC continued their rich vein of form with a 5-0 whitewash of last year’s premiers East Coast Heat at Logan Metro Sports Centre on Saturday morning.
Galaxy dominated possession from the outset creating a number of scoring opportunities in the first 10 minutes without capitalising on them, while East Coast were prepared to sit back in their own half and absorb the pressure, managing to break free with a few counter-attacks that caught the Galaxy defence by surprise.
Solid defence prevented Heat from creating any genuine chances though and Galaxy continued to press until the inevitable opening goal was scored in the 13th minute by Mariel Hecher, who pounced on a loose ball after the East Coast keeper deflected Joanne Burgess’ initial strike.
Young Mackenzie Douglas came on for Galaxy and soon after slotted in at the far post to lift the home side up 2-0 at halftime; and Galaxy maintained dominance in possession in the second term with Hecher again in the action scoring from a well-placed Burgess pass.
To their credit an under-siege Heat worked hard to deny Galaxy and even created some opportunities of their own, but the weight of Galaxy possession ultimately resulted in a brilliant Charlotte Boyes solo-run up the middle and excellent finish before Ashleigh Bucknall scored late from a nice one-two with Hecher, the final 5-0 scoreline underlining Galaxy’s title credentials.
Boomerangs, Vipers stalemate
Boomerangs FS and Vic Vipers fought out an epic 2-2 draw in the Saturday matinee at the AIS Training Halls.
This match had it all to play for with both teams vying for a top-four finish and a chance to play finals Futsal in 2016; Vipers also looking to atone for an early-season loss to Boomerangs in Victoria.
The game was high in quality and showcased a tremendous display of quality Futsal, both individually and teamwork, with both goalkeepers the stand-outs.
Both sides controlled periods of play in the first half and the momentum swung back and forth with some terrific defence keeping the game scoreless at the interval.
The second half saw the quality-play continue before the Vipers finally opened the ledger with a classy goal to Ceyda Cambaz, followed soon after by another equally-stylish Rhianna Pollicina finish to provide a two-goal buffer for the southerners.
Boomerangs responded and were rewarded when Natalie De Marco slipped one past Vics custodian Gillian Raymond to bring the game back to a single-goal differential; and with the clock ticking down Olivia Gurney found herself within shooting distance and smacked home a long-range bomb to level a thrilling contest at 2-2.
A share of the competition points was probably a fair reflection of the game, with a star performance from Raymond ensuring Vipers gained something from all their hard work.
South Brisbane rip East Coast
South Brisbane got the better of East Coast Heat 7-3 at Logan Metro Sports Centre on Saturday afternoon to make it a Queensland one-two at the top of the leaderboard.
South Brisbane’s Shannon Tathem opened the scoring with a right-foot cracker in just the second minute, East Coast’s Caitlin Campbell responding immediately to make it 1-all in the fourth, and some stubborn defence on both sides kept the score unchanged to halftime.
The home side came back from the break ready to get to job done and Mel Weckert scored early after a solid run from defence, followed quickly by Natalie Tathem and Sofie Persson goals to create a 4-1 buffer a quarter-hour from the finish.
South Brisbane gained an opportunity to further their cause with a foul inside the D allowing Mel Weckert to hit the back of the net perfectly, but East Coast pumped it down the line to then get the same chance in the D with Caitlin Campbell netting the penalty to make it 5-2.
Heat started to dominate as they began a fifth-man powerplay, Alexia Guerinoni and Campbell scoring with the South Brisbane defence losing control; but Rebekah Horsey and Sarah Amorim answered for the northerners with goals in the closing minutes complementing an impressive 7-3 victory.
It’s the second successive time the sides have piled on 10-goal scorelines (South Brisbane winning 7-3 in Sydney last month), an equal-10th highest women’s F-League scoreline; and a total of eight scorers is joint second-highest in four competitions (there were nine when Vipers beat South Brisbane 7-6 earlier this year). Six South Brisbane scorers is also joint second-highest team total (seven Sydney Scorpions scored in a 9-1 demolition of Dural in 2014.
Untouchables, Vipers draw
The first-ever meeting between North Canberra and Vic Vipers finished in a 3-3 draw at the AIS Training Halls on Sunday morning.
Vipers gripped a tight 1-0 halftime lead and the second half was just as tense with the two sides inseparable at the final whistle – Rhianna Pollicina bagging a brace for the Vics.
South Brisbane tame Galaxy
South Brisbane took the first-ever women’s Queensland-derby honours beating Galaxy FC 7-2 at Eagle Sports Complex on Sunday morning.
Galaxy took an early lead when Alisha Foote squared a sharp pass across from the right flank to Georgina Bridges who slammed home the opening goal, but the advantage was shortlived as South Brisbane’s Sofie Persson equalised in the ninth minute.
Galaxy regained the lead moments later when Mariel Hecher scored followed good support play from Foote but it was back on level terms following a hand-ball call in the FC penalty area, Melissa Weckert firing in a strong penalty to take the teams into halftime at two-apiece.
As tight as the first half was the second was all South Brisbane who launched aggressive counter-attacks through the middle of the court, at times muscling their way past the Galaxy defence, Sofie Persson finishing with a triple along with goals to Sarah Amorim, Natalie Tathem and Rebekah Horsey to seal a comfortable 7-2 win.
South Brisbane have scored an indelible 52 goals in seven games to shoot to the top of the women’s ladder (their 55-goal season total just three short of Parramatta’s record held since 2013) – and they’ve stretched their ‘home-state’ unbeaten run to 13 matches (five more than next-best East Coast achieved in 2015).
This week’s games
A half-dozen matches make up 2016 Women’s PUMA F-League this weekend with North Canberra Untouchables versus Boomerangs FS in the ACT-derby at the AIS Training Halls on Friday night (8.15pm), followed by Saturday matches at the same venue between Boomerangs and East Coast in the morning (11am) and Heat play Untouchables in the afternoon (2.30pm), while South Brisbane meet Galaxy FC in an all-Queensland derby at Eagle Sports Complex (1pm). Dural Warriors travel north for Sunday fixtures against Galaxy (11.30am) and South Brisbane (3pm) at Logan Metro Sports Centre.