The Under 13s took on the highly rated Whittlesea Ranges at ABD Stadium on Sunday in the NPL Grand Final. Perfect weather conditions, the large main pitch and vocal supporters welcomed the boys as they made their way on to the ground. A spirited performance resulted all the way through to the final minute however Whittlesea was too strong running out victors by two goals.
Whittlesea were a physically stronger and larger team however the speed of the South boys provided opportunities through the midfield to press forward in attack. The defence was consistently bombarded with long balls booted up the pitch and the back four did well to cover and clear their lines. On one such occasion Whittlesea striker Giovanni Stellitano broke through and made his way into the left side of the area. His shot was deflected by South keeper Marcus Ellul but the ball still found its way into the net.
South continued to attack throughout the first half with Ethan Rosemond consistently stretching the Ranges defence down the right flank. Opportunities were tough to come by and an amazing run by Weeam Zeitoune as he rounded four defenders presented the best of them.
The second half began positively however after just two minutes Whittlesea found themselves forward in numbers. A run down the left took the ball almost to the by-line before being cut across the face of goal. Ata-Khan Cetin was hovering near the back post and his tap in doubled the lead for Ranges and sparked excited celebrations for the boys in red.
Our squad didn’t drop their heads and would have done the Clarendon Corner proud with their efforts of ‘South Melbourne right till the end’. It wasn’t to be however and Whittlesea Ranges secured the title as 2015 NPL Under 13 Champions.
South Melbourne coach Brian MacNicol spoke to smfc.com.au after the match saying “I thought our boys did very very well. It just came down to Whittlesea being a little bit more physical and stronger than us, a bit more developed. I was proud of the boys and the performance they put in today. ”
Reflecting on the season overall MacNicol said “We have developed into a very good footballing side. Today in patches we played very well and the boys will continue to develop. I think there are certainly some future players for the South first team that were out there today. Billy and Yianni were both Under 12s and got promoted into the Under 13s halfway through the season. They have developed well and we continue to develop all our young boys for the future.”
Under 13 Captains Corban Baker told smfc.com.au “We played well as a team but didn’t go in hard enough. They just outplayed us today.”
There is little rest for the squad as they are back on the pitch for 2016 Selection Trials this week, then straight into Spring training in preparation for a tournament in Shepparton in just a few weeks time.
After the match, the South Melbourne FC squad were presented with their NPL Grand Final runners-up medal, their NPL East Champions medal and the club pennant for winning the NPL East Championship.