South Melbourne FC’s senior women opened their 2018 NPLW Victoria season with a 5-1 victory over the Senior NTC at Knox Football Centre on Saturday afternoon. Despite going a goal behind in the first half, Socrates Nicolaidis’ side was 2-1 ahead by the halftime break and stamped their authority in the second half to run out convincing winners.
Several first-team regulars in Alex Cheal, Alex Gummer, Melina Ayres and captain Tiffany Eliadis were missing either due to injury or resting after the recently completed W-League season. Vice captain Natalie Martineau was a substitute on the bench as South began the match with a very young side on the park and went a goal down when Ashley Jordan popped up at the far post to tap in a cross on 15 minutes. It wasn’t long before Julia Nicolaci slotted home the equalising goal, before 17-year-old Chelsea Blissett put South ahead with a calm left-footed finish.
14-year-old Betti Michael was put through on goal and neatly finished early in the second half. 15-year-old Sofia Sakalis, a South junior from the age of 6 who had just returned to the club from Melbourne City’s victorious W-League squad, was introduced in the second half and made an immediate impact. 18 minutes after entering the field, she hit a shot that went through a sea of legs to find the back of the net. Twelve minutes later, she scored a brilliant individual goal by gliding past several defenders into the penalty area before chipping goalkeeper Sophia Verley to complete a double on her senior debut for the club.
Post-match, Nicolaidis was pleased to get off the mark. “I said to the girls that after Round 1 [in 2017] we had no points, this year we’re already ahead [with three]. It was great to see the younger ones scoring goals today, overall we’re very happy.”
“There is so much exciting talent in Victoria and we want to create an environment at South Melbourne where we can be part of the solution for the Australian women’s team by bringing up these young players.”
FINAL SCORE: SENIOR NTC 1-5 SOUTH MELBOURNE (HT: 1-2)
1-0: Ashley Jordan (15′)
1-1: Julia Nicolaci (20′)
1-2: Chelsea Blissett (30′)
1-3: Betti Michael (52′)
1-4: Sofia Sakalis (65′)
1-5: Sofia Sakalis (77′)
32. Sophia Varley (GK), 3. Mia Lantieri-Bartley (c), 4. Claudia Mihocic, 5. Alana Cerne (14. Grace Taranto 62′), 6. Isabella Sewards, 9. Ashley Jordan, 10. Kelly Hei Lam (54. Meisha Simpson 76′), 11. Fran Lermano, 12. Niamh McLure (20. Georgie Richardson 68′), 18. Nia Stamatopoulos (7. Holly Furphy 62′), 19. Shaelan Chamoun (27. Katrina Nikpour 83′).
1. Cassandra Zaffina (GK), 2. Marianna Anthony, 4. Leah Scroggie, 5. Aimee Medwin, 7. Chelsea Blissett, 8. Jamie Pollock (c), 9. Julia Nicolaci, 12. Sarah Richardson (16. Sofia Sakalis 46′), 24. Christina Stefanou (10. Natalie Martineau 24′ [6. Tayler Stevens 72′]), 34. Paige Zois, 36. Betti Michael (27. Irene Paracki 69′).
Unused Substitute: Alexia Karatzikos (GK).