South Melbourne FC’s women confirmed themselves as one of the more successful clubs of the modern era on Sunday afternoon after winning a third Championship in five years, yet they have effectively been relegated by FFV from competing at the top level next year.
SMWFC were able to overcome a very strong Boroondara Eagles outfit by equalising twice throughout the match and holding their nerve in the penalty shootout to claim consecutive Championships. It was the final match of the Sportsmart Women’s Premier League before the new Women’s National Premier League begins in 2016.
Boroondara started the Grand Final in the best possible way by finding the back of net after only four minutes of play. Despite peppering the Boroondara goal mouth for the remaining parts of the opening half, efforts from Tiffany Eliadis and Jamie Pollock wouldn’t fall the right way for the girls in blue.
South continued to push forward at every opportunity in the second half, seeking a well-deserved equaliser. Eliadis and Pollock continued to look most likely to unlock the Eagles defence, however it was Carol Howes that produced the magic to get her side back on level terms. The remaining twenty minutes of normal time were a frantic affair, with both sides throwing everything forward in search of a winning goal to avoid extra time but there were no further goals.
South were placed on the back foot early in the extra time period, with Taryne Boudreau of the Eagles scoring a stunning 30 metre effort past the stranded Frances Land in the South goal. South continued to throw numbers forward in search of yet another equalising goal and their effort and persistence were rewarded only a minute later thanks to an own goal scored from a header by Eagles player Alex Gummer that made the score 2-2.
The second period of extra time was a tough and torrid fifteen minutes, with both teams continuing to attack at will but with many players also starting to cramp up. Boroondara almost won the Championship in dramatic fashion only seconds before the final whistle when Amy Jackson’s free kick smashed into the crossbar, before Boudreau blasted the loose ball over the crossbar when following up the free kick. This was the final chance of the game as it went to penalties.
In an epic penalty shootout, it would be skipper Alex Cheal who would capatilise on the two failed penalty attempts by the Eagles to win the match for South 5-4 on penalties and to send the girls into delirium.
Despite their success on the park, the reality quickly sunk in that both Grand Finalists may have played their final game at the top level of football in the state, with both Boroondara and SMWFC not offered one of the eight spots in the new competition next year. SMWFC and Boroondara join Bundoora United, Casey Comets (part of Southern United consortium), Caulfield United Cobras, NTC, Sandringham (part of Bayside United consortium) and South Yarra in missing out on a place in the Women’s NPL.
SMWFC is continuing to participate in mediation with FFV concerning its participation in the WNPL.
We congratulate SMWFC on their fantastic achievement and hope that they will soon be back in the top flight to defend their back-to-back Championships!