The South Women walked on to Lakeside Stadium last Sunday looking to secure a full three points and maintain a perfect winning start to 2016. With five starters missing from the line-up and Lara United sitting one place back in third on the ladder, a competitive fixture was expected.
A vocal supporter group from Lara United graced the grandstand and they were rewarded in the twelfth minute when Izzy Wilkinson fired a rocket from forty yards out that flew into the bottom left of the net, giving the visitors an early lead. South responded in the best way possible and just a few minutes later had equalised when Natalie Martineau set up Eliza Gleadell to easily find the back of the net.
The value of the large Lakeside pitch provided the South girls with the advantage as they used width and pace to attack deep into the final third. Those attacks were rewarded when Sara Alberici scored her seventh goal for the season by chipping the keeper from the edge of the area to put South in front.
Lara United again found the net with another long range shot by Rachel Bennett to make it 2-2.
In the final five minutes of the match, South had multiple shots on goal, coming agonisingly close and even hitting the upright. A free kick awarded some forty yards from goal saw defensive midfielder Stella Rebholz step up for her trademark long-range shot. With the Lakeside scoreboard showing just eight seconds left in regulation time, Stella’s shot flew over the head of every player in the area, including the Lara goalkeeper and into the net triggering screams of delight, high fives and celebrations from the pitch to the grandstand. It was a vital three points for the South squad.
Stella spoke to smfc.com.au after the match, adding that “it was really amazing and frustrating. I was there as centre back working my backside off – let’s put it that way – and we had so many chances but couldn’t get the ball in. I got the free kick at the end and was like ‘ok, all in’. I don’t know how I got it, I just smashed it somehow into the goal. It was an amazing finish.”
“Overall it was really hard to get into the game. We had many players that couldn’t play so we don’t know each other that well, so it was hard. Lara were on us all the time and really aggressive always trying to be the first to the ball. We couldn’t get into our game which we usually play. We have a lot of work to do before the cup game but we’ll be ready. It’s been a positive start to the season but there is a lot more potential to get better.”
Forward Caitlin Greiser and defender Deryl Aziz added that “it was a very intense game, Lara were third on the ladder and we were just above them so we really wanted to go out there and win, get the three points and remain near the top of the ladder. Stella played really well playing in the back line and in the midfield. She kept it together and scored the winning goal. Lara were a pretty good team, very physical and they had a few really fast players up front.”
The Women’s team are back in action on Friday night at BT Connor Reserve against Preston Lions, kicking off at 8:30pm.