University have been crowned champions of the Women’s Divison 1 for 2022 following a dramatic victory over arch-rivals the Albion Park White Eagles.
The 2-1 win brought an end to Albion Park’s incredible local grand final winning streak with the club having won the previous six deciders – including the previous three against the Unicorns.
All the actions was stacked into the second half with eventual player of the match Kate Sebben scoring the opener for Uni, seconds before substitute Amy Morrell netted their second.
Sarah Alwert was able to scramble a goal back, however, two red cards hamstrung the White Eagles from completing what would have been the comeback of comebacks.
Albion Park midfielder Michelle Foscarini kicked off the excitement in the 10th minute with a powerful free-kick, but she couldn’t prevent it from going over the crossbar.
Some sharp play from Uni captain Elise Battin and striker Tahlia Petrovski looked to be threatening in the front third, but the strong Park defensive line was keeping them at bay.
In the 15th minute, Eliza Cowan struck through the centre of the park with pace before squaring off the ball into Sarah Alwert who attempted a shot at goal but is immediately blocked by a Unicorns’ defender.
Five minutes later, White Eagles captain Brittany Ring sent a long ball over the top and into the feet of Cowan who came close to taking the lead, but her shot flew into the side netting.
The Unicorns would soon retaliate with an effort from Kya Godbier that was later denied by goalkeeper Taryn Ruiz who was standing in for Megan Blanch who suffered a serious injury in the semi-final.
In the 27th minute, a quick transition from Alwert led to a shot from Kristina Glisic who was fresh onto the park, but she was unable find the back of the net.
University continued to push when Battin found space behind the left channel and played the ball into young gun Amy Morrell in open space at the far post who directed a shot straight into the hands of Ruiz.
In the 35th minute, the Unicorns came close once more with playmaker Battin finding Rilee Wagner just outside the 18-yard box, before Wagner rounded her defenders, but sent her shot flying wide.
In what was an intense first half from both sides as they battled it out until the half-time whistle, however, the match remained goalless as they went into the sheds.
It was just 10 minutes into the second half when the Unicorns grabbed the opening goal for the evening.
Kate Sebben stepped up to take a free-kick some 35 metres from goal with the centreback striking the underside of the crossbar before finding the back of the net.
Less than a minute later, Uni had their second with Morrell using her rapid footwork to pass through the defence and slotting the ball home at the near post.
There was a flashpoint in the 58th minute when Albion Park defender Sarah Toscun was shown a red card after lashing out after coming together with an opponent which left her side with a mountain to climb.
However, Albion Park grabbed hold of a lifeline a couple of minutes later when Alwert managed to scramble home a Foscarini corner at the near post.
Another corner from Foscarini shortly after looked to be dangerous as the ball headed towards Glisic volleyed it over the crossbar.
A final chance at goal came through Petrovski as she sped through the middle of the park, beating her defenders once more and sending a low-driven shot into the hands of Ruiz.
In the final seconds of the match, White Eagles midfielder Rylee Mcgartland received her second booking of the match to see the league winners finish the match with nine players.
The University players lapped up the cheers of their Unicorns faithful upon hearing the full-time whistle with the side under coach Brod Creighton finally getting their hands on the converted grand final silverware.
The defeat doesn’t spell the end of the season for Albion Park, who will have to lick their wounds before heading north on Sunday to face Coogee United in the final four of the NSW Champion of Champions.
Albion Park White Eagles 1 (Sarah Alwert 60’)
UOW FC 2 (Kate Sebben 55’, Amy Morrell 56’)
Player of the match: Kate Sebben (UOW FC)
Albion Park White Eagles: 1. RUIZ Taryn, 4. WATERMOTH Samantha, 6. ALWERT Sarah, 7. TOSCAN Sarah, 8. MARTIN Jazze, 9. JOHNSON Ryleigh, 10. FOSCARINI Michelle, 11. ZIROGIANNIS Sophie, 12. COWAN Eliza, 13. HANLY Jessica, 14. GLISIC Kristina, 15. GREEN Arieal, 16. ROSSI Jessica, 18. MCGARTLAND Rylee, 22. MOYLAN Robyn, 23. RING Brittany
UOW FC: 1. COLEMAN Elle, 3. BROWN Rhianna, 4. WAGNER Rilee, 7. BATTIN Elise, 8. GODBIER Kya, 10. CRIGHTON Lucy, 16. CLARK Lilliana, 17. CARTER Lexi, 31. LUME Edith, 50. TOLSON Lisa, 52. DAWSON Lily, 69. SEBBEN Kate, 77. BEC Cayla, 79. AMATO Graci, 87. PETROVSKI Tahlia, 98. MORRELL Amy
Date: Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Venue: Ian McLennan Park, Kembla Grange
Report by Alison Dinh, on Twitter @alisondinh_
Photos by Richie Wagner