On Sunday afternoon the Julie Porter Cup Final kicked off at Ian McLennan Park between long-time rivals Albion Park White Eagles and University of Wollongong FC.
Both sides took a fiery and dominant approach to the pitch from the get go, resulting in a 1-1 draw at the end of the 90 minutes.
The two teams would later take part in a penalty shoot-out, where we saw the University of Wollongong FC take a 4-2 victory away, becoming the Champions of the Julie Porter Cup for 2023.
A rapid start from the Albion Park White Eagles saw leading goal-scorer Eliza Cowan drift through the centre of the park before a one-two between Cowan and Mykenzie Fleming looked to be dangerous, later sending Cowan in behind her defence line before her shot at goal was denied by the hands of Elle Coleman.
In the 11th minute of the match, University’s Sophie Boyd would soon travel through the midfield before taking a long range shot way outside the 18-yard box but would later be denied by the cross-bar.
Just minutes later, the Unicorns would come close once more with another long-range strike from Bethany Nielson but was saved well by goalkeeper Aleisha Chessell.
20 minutes later, Cowan took the line with speed before sending a square ball into the centre of the 18-yard box where Dajana Popovic would take a low shot before Coleman made an effortless save.
Four minutes later, a superb corner ball from Park’s midfielder Camille Agustyn would find Jessica Rossi at the near post before her off the volley strike was sent just wide off the near post.
In the 35th minute, a duo between University’s forwards Amy Morell and Mia Saverino came close at goal but would later be denied by an offside call.
At the 45th minute, Samantha Waterworth had the Eagle’s last chance to take the lead before the half-time blow but was blocked once more.
The two sides would head into the half-time break goalless after an intense first half.
The second half kicked off and Cowan was back on the attack for Park before her effort went straight to the keeper after dribbling past two defenders to get her shot away.
Albion Park continued to be precise and dominant in the first 10 minutes of the second half as they had some great chances to grab their first goal but could not get any away.
With just 20 minutes to go, the Unicorns looked dangerous in the final third when Lucy Crighton went for a run down the line before sending a diagonal ball into Katia Turner for a chance at goal but could not get it away.
In the 73rd minute, a long ball from Park’s defender Sarah Toscan found the feet of Cowan, who would later travel through the centre of her defenders before slotting her shot past Coleman and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after, Boyd received the ball just inside the 18-yard box before spraying her shot way over the crossbar.
With just four minutes left, a second yellow for the Eagle’s midfielder Rylee McGartland saw Park forced to play the remainder of the match with 10 players.
Seconds later, a direct free-kick was awarded to the Unicorns with Lexi Carter sending an accurate high ball over the top and into the feet of Boyd who neatly rounded the goalkeeper, finding a late equalizer.
A dominant Cowan came close to finding the winning goal in the final seconds of the game with another breakthrough past her defenders, but was denied one last time.
The two sides battled it out until the final blow, but at the 90th minute, the scores were set at 1-1 and a penalty shoot out would commence just 5 minutes later for the decider.
The penalty shoot-out began, and it was the University of Wollongong FC who gained a 4-2 victory over their opposition, crowning them the Champions of the Julie Porter Cup for 2023.
Albion Park White Eagles: 1 (2-4 penalties)
University of Wollongong FC: 1 (4-2 penalties)
Date: Sunday 16 April, 2023
Venue: Ian McLennan Park
Referee: Martin Rowney
Assistant Referees: Mick Agim and Ruben Janssens
Report by Alison Dinh, on Twitter @alisondinh_
Photos courtesy of Kiah Hufton