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An almighty thriller

Monday, 23rd September, 2019

Alma’s premiership winning women’s team with coach Codey Ralph (right), William Hebbard and club mascot Rudi the Goat. PICTURE: Callum Marshall Alma’s premiership winning women’s team with coach Codey Ralph (right), William Hebbard and club mascot Rudi the Goat. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

A thrilling, intense, back-and-forth game saw the Alma Women’s team beat West 12-11 on penalties, with both sides rallying well when the game looked like it was slipping away from them.

At the start of the match, it was West who came out with all guns blazing as their forwards and midfielders put incredible pressure on the Goats’ backline. 

Alma were struggling to get it out of their third and West players such as Rebecca Deer, Monique Simmons, Sabina Brown and Braidi McLeod-Quinn were tackling well and forcing Goats’ mistakes.

Their hard work paid off when Caitlyn Bloomfield picked the ball up in the middle of the Alma box and tucked it away into the bottom right of the Goats’ goal.

With Alma under the pump they had to find something to get past the West players and while Heaven Celotto and Stephanie Harman threatened the Panthers on a number of occasions, particularly Harman, they were still struggling to get into the West goal box.

The Goats’ players were working hard but against Deer, who was having a fantastic first half, the chances were few and far between.

West were 1-0 up at halftime and could have had more if their final balls and finishing were more on target. 

The Goats, while playing better as the half wore on, had to go up another level in the second half and that they did, with the second half much more back-and-forth between the sides.

Along the right wing, the Goats Mahana Hebbard was finding more space and time to get past the opposition midfield and defence. 

But West were still putting the pressure on, almost scoring a second after the Goats tried to clear a ball away from their goal.

The wing play from both sides was looking more and more ominous for opposition defences, with Alma’s Hebbard and West’s Simmons getting past a number of players each.

In the final ten minutes of regular time though, Lakisha Sloane scored a fantastic equaliser for the Goats with a lovely finish past the keeper into the left side of the West goal.

With the sides tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, Alma’s strong finish to the end of regular time carried over into extra time with Heaven Celotto getting onto a great through ball from midfield and slotting it past the keeper into the bottom right of the Panther’s goal.

From 1-0 up after 80 minutes to 2-1 down in the early stages of extra time, West were now the side struggling to cope with their opponents energy and pressure.

Just when it looked like Alma’s turnaround might’ve been too much for them, the Panthers managed to equalise in the dying minutes of extra time with Jasmine Mitchell putting the ball into the Goats’ goal after a scramble in the box. 

A thriller of a match was suddenly going to penalties, the cruellest of ways to decide a match.

Both teams’ groups of players lined up in the centre of the pitch and stood by nervously as one-by-one their players walked up to take their penalty kick.

Every time it looked like one side had got on top with an opposition player missing or their goalkeeper saving well, their chance to win the game was spurned when their own player missed.

Back-and-forth the momentum swung with the crowds yelling out in joy or panic with each missed kick.

Finally, with the penalties into sudden death and Alma leading 12-11, West missed their 12th kick, meaning the Goats had won. Alma went wild, while the Panthers consoled the penalty taker and so too Goats’ players.

It was an insane end to what was a fantastic final, with the result meaning that the season’s two major honours were shared between the sides: the premiership for Alma and the league championship for West.

 

RESULT

Alma def. West 12-11 on penalties.

Alma 2 (L. Sloane, H. Celotto) tied West 2 (C. Bloomfield, J. Micthell) A.E.T.

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