Ettalong wins women's soccer semi-final
Central Coast Football's women's soccer league semi-finals were played at Pluim Park on August 25, with first-placed Southern and Ettalong United winning over second-placed Kanwal in the major semi-final.
Third-placed Gosford City defeated fourth-placed Umina United in the minor semi-final.
Having won the league championship just a week earlier, Ettalong went into the semi-final full of confidence, looking to secure the first grand final position and with a possible mental edge over their opponent ahead of a possible grand final meeting, according to Central Coast Football's online editor Mr Lachlan Herd.
The Bulls were the only side the team had not beaten during the season.
"The match began at a frenetic pace as both sides tussled for control," he said.
"The Lionesses looked to be growing into the match quicker than their northern counterparts and at the 12th minute they found the lead through Tahlor Thackray.
"Well outside the penalty area, Thackray flicked the ball over the head of an on-rushing defender before letting fly with a speculative volley that looped over the head of Kanwal keeper to give the Lionesses the early lead.
"Both sides struggled at times to produce their best football in an opening half that continued at a frenetic pace for the full 45 minutes.
"However, Kanwal did manage to manufacture some late scoring opportunities, denied on each occasion by some stellar saves from Ettalong keeper Bec Arnfield.
"Typical of their season so far, Ettalong started the second half confidently as they put Kanwal under significant pressure.
"The Bulls, however, managed to fight their way back into the match and probably should have drawn themselves level on a number of occasions were it not for some wasteful finishing in front of goal.
"With time beginning to run out and Kanwal chasing a much-needed equaliser, Ettalong's Charlotte Steed was able to capitalise on some space behind the Kanwal defensive unit, breaking through the Kanwal defence and finishing past an on-rushing Burke to wrap up a spot in the grand-final at Central Coast Stadium."
Ettalong coach Mr Craig Thackray said: "I'm absolutely ecstatic and am proud of the Lionesses who showed grit and determination and now find themselves in the grand final."
Mr Herd said the minor semi-final was "do or die" for both Umina and Gosford, with the match deciding who would move onto the grand final and who would be hanging up the boots for the season.
He said the crowd at Pluim Park did not have to wait long for the opening goal as Umina's top scorer Kate Styles found the net within the opening 15 minutes to give her side an early lead.
"The concession of the opening goal saw Gosford City really begin to assert their dominance on the match as they enjoyed a majority of the ball and created a number of goal-scoring opportunities, but they struggled to breach the Umina goal," he said.
"Late in the first half, however, reigning Golden Boot winner Jessica Dominello let fly with a strike from distance that crashed in off of the crossbar.
"The second period saw Gosford continue their dominance of the ball as they forged several chances without managing to find a second breakthrough.
"With several players required to back-up from their reserve grade semi-final in the earlier match, it became obvious that the Umina side were beginning to tire as Gosford continued to ramp up the intensity.
"Just as it appeared that the heavily fatigued Umina side had done enough to force the match into extra time, they had their hearts broken by a second goal to Dominello, scoring with what proved the final kick of the match."
Umina coach Mr Steve Donaldson commented: "To lose with the final kick of the game is so heart-breaking and so unrewarding as no other team has put in as much of an effort as these girls have this year."
Website and photo, 28 Aug 2019
Lachlan Herd, Central Coast Football