Report by Tommy Doleman
Title celebrations for Murdoch University Melville.Photo by Football West/FotoEnzo
Murdoch University Melville went back-to-back as NPLWA – Women’s champions after two first-half strikes gave them a 2-1 win in Friday’s thrilling title decider against Northern Redbacks.
Redbacks held a one-point lead going into the final round of the season and a great crowd at Wormall Civil Stadium were not disappointed as the two strongest women’s sides in the west went toe-to-toe.
The holders took the early initiative in pursuit of three points as Ellie La Monte volleyed over, while Sarah Carroll nearly opened the scoring for Redbacks when she beat Danelle Cornish to the ball and rolled agonisingly wide of the post.
Jayna Ridley’s shot was blocked as the visitors worked their way into the game, but MUM FC’s firepower came to the fore and they opened the scoring just past the half-hour mark.
Grace Betti released La Monte down the right and the winger cut inside to finish past Maya Diederichsen for a superb 13th goal of the campaign.
Larissa Walsh missed a good opportunity to equalise for Redbacks, before Betti got on the scoresheet herself five minutes before the break as she lobbed the goalkeeper from the edge of the area after Redbacks failed to clear their lines.
That was well and truly advantage to Mark Jones’ side, but Walsh pulled one back 15 minutes from time to set up a thrilling finale and ultimately win the league’s Golden Boot with her 15th of the campaign.
Shawn Billam volleyed wide with the closest chance Redbacks had to stealing back the league, but it was MUM FC who completed a league and State Cup double and have eyes on a treble when next week’s Top Four Cup starts.
It was only Redbacks’ second defeat of the season as they fell short after an impressive season as Carlos Vega Mena’s side now turn their attention to defending the Top Four Cup as the pair meet in the major semi-final next week.
On Sunday, Perth SC won 4-0 against Subiaco to finish third and ensure they will host next weekend’s Top Four Cup elimination final with Fremantle City.
Perth needed only a point to confirm their finals position and they hit the front on 16 minutes when Gemma Craine stood up a cross to the back post and Jaime Duncanson nodded home.
Duncanson and Liana Cook then missed chances from close range as Danielle Brogan’s side continued to pile on the pressure.
Jen Walsh headed a free-kick wide early in the second half but that was the closest the visitors came, with Marissa Pidgeon making a super neat post save to deny Craine and keep her team alive.
But Perth responded with three goals in the final quarter of an hour. Craine fizzed in her fifth in as many games from outside the area before two further Azzurri goals late on.
Zoe Spadano drove in from the edge of the box for her second of the season and Cook completed the scoring with a chip over Pidgeon.
Perth jumped to third thanks to Balcatta’s 1-0 win over Fremantle City, which meant Tim Cash’s side ended 2021 on a high and Freo now have to travel to Dorrien Gadens next weekend.
The game’s decisive goal came on 35 minutes as Epril Nossent was fouled by Dayle Schroeder and Kimberly McCartney planted the subsequent penalty into the back of the net.
McCartney fired over a good chance to double Balcatta’s lead late on, while City nearly jagged a late leveller when Isabelle Bridger’s header led to goalmouth scramble which saw Tash Rigby and Kayla McCulloch try their best to find the goal.
Finally, Hyundai NTC ended their campaign with a flurry as Monique Prinsloo’s hat-trick helped the youngsters win 6-1 over Curtin University at Ashfield Reserve.
Ella Lincoln’s solo run ended with an assured finish into the bottom corner inside two minutes as Ben Anderton’s side took a 1-0 lead into the break.
But Curtin levelled 30 seconds after the restart when Penelope Clayton unleashed a scorching strike from all of 30 yards which flew past Zara Board.
However, Prinsloo scored twice within the space of a minute to end the visitors hopes of any final day joy. Her first came as she followed in Lincoln’s effort which was brilliantly saved by Stacey Cavill, before squeezing past the goalkeeper at the near post moments later.
Tijan McKenna hammered in brilliantly from distance for 4-1 and Prinsloo completed her treble and moved to 10 for the season with a close-range finish.
Taneesha Baker slotted in a late sixth for NTC, who finish fifth and narrowly miss the Top Four Cup for the second straight season.