Calderon’s Early Double Sees United Home
An early double from Wollongong United striker, Veronica Calderon, propelled them to a 3-1 victory over Thirroul in the Grange Women’s Division 1 competition at Macedonia Park.
With a thunderstorm threatening, the ladies stepped onto an overcast pitch, both looking for their first points and to stamp their authority in the belated 2020 season.
Within just five minutes, Wollongong United drew first blood when Veronica Calderon intercepted a regulation pass from the opposition keeper and capitalised from short range.
Down by one, Thirroul launched a series of counter attacks that would’ve paid dividends if not for the agile work of United goalkeeper, Aaliyah Sigabalavu.
A shot from the edge of the box by Thirroul striker, Kaitlin Moss, seemed destined for the top corner before Sigabalavu got her hand to it.
By the 22nd minute, United struck again through Calderon once more, putting it away from the corner of the box off a classy feed from Angelica Barraza.
In the 28th minute, Thirroul’s attacking midfielder, Claytyn Gehrke, expertly threaded the needle to set up a one-on-one between Mott and Sigabalavu, in which the United keeper was triumphant again.
Mott called for round three just six minutes later and was once again denied at close range by the Midas hands of Sigabalavu.
Thirroul’s attacking midfielder, Claytyn Gehrke had the ball on a string throughout the opening stanza, supplying countless goal-scoring opportunities for the ladies upfront.
Her composure in the midfield and passing accuracy aided Thirroul in occupying enemy territory for the majority of the first half, despite trailing 2-0 at the half.
After an exhausting first half for the Thirroul ladies, they began to lose their edge in the possession game, as United dominated the ball and were rock solid in defence.
United extended their lead to 3-0 In the 68th minute curtesy of some Teisha McKenzie brilliance.
After beating her defender on the touchline, McKenzie curled in a miracle from a position wide of the box and in line with the six-yard that wowed the crowd.
A shot that may have initially been intended as a cross for incoming teammates, turned out to be the highlight of the match, solidifying United’s lead.
It took 74 minutes for Thirroul to make an impression on the score sheet, as Kirsten Ward burned her defender off the dribble and chipped the unimpeachable Sigabalavu, making the score 3-1.
The match reached another climax just a minute and a half later when a deflected shot off the hands of Sigabalavu was retrieved and nailed into an open goal by Jasmine Brown, only to be disallowed by an offside call.
This goal would’ve seen the deficit shrunk to just one, with only five minutes left on the clock.
The game concluded shortly after another impressive act by Sigabalavu, saving consecutive shot attempts from Thirroul strikers.
The final score ended up at 3-1 to Wollongong United over Thirroul in an entertaining showing of Women’s top-grade football.
Proud United coach, Jeff Jovanovski, credited the win to his senior players’ composure and resilience on the defensive end, “that was the theme today… the older heads just keeping it together in the back there for us”.
Jovanovski lauded his goalkeeper, Aaliyah Sigabavalu, who had eight saves in the first half alone and was instrumental in the win for United.
“Outstanding. I think she was probably the difference between the two teams at the end of the day. Her experience between the sticks really showed”.
Sunday 12th of July at Macedonia Park
The Grange Women’s Division 1 – Round 1
Wollongong United: 3 (CALDERON 5’ 22’, MCKENZIE 68’)
Thirroul: 1 (WARD 74’)
Wollongong United: Cristina BARRAZA, Veronica CALDERON, Jayda ELLIOT, Jada, JOVANOVSKI, Teisha MCKENZIE, Isabella MITREVSKI, Cassandra PETKOVSKA, Cassandra PRESTON, Brittany SANDS, Tanika SHARROCK, Aaliyah SIGABALAVU, Rikki-Lee WARDLE, Rilee WAGNER, Mariam FOFANA, Angelica BARRAZA, Maya FIELD, Narvana HOLLAND
Coach: Jeff JOVANOVSKI
Thirroul: Cara BAKER, Danielle BLACKETT, Claytyn GEHRKE, Chloe HOCKING, Keely MAR, Kaitlin MOTT, Jenna ROSE, Jamie RYAN, Grace VAUGHAN, Kirsten WARD, Ashleigh ORVAD, Hannah BOWEN, Jasmine BROWN, Mahalla ROYTER, Rachel SYLVESTER
Coach: John Dark
Match Report by Fletcher Winning