Victorian Women Claim the 2016 National Championship
Senior Women’s Nationals – 2016
Final: Victoria v South Australia
On Wednesday the final of the 2016 Women’s Nationals was fought out by Victoria and South Australia. In the preliminaries SA had defeated Victoria by one goal, and their match ups with the other teams throughout the week gave every indication that this final would be close.
South Australia were first to settle and first to score. Victoria’s response came from Hayley Sofarnos from a Sarah Mollison feed – these two had combined well throughout the championship. South Australia scored the next two goals - a game pattern similar to what had happened earlier in the week. Victoria needed to gain more possession to avoid a wider margin. Rachel Kirchheimer obviously got the email and scored the next goal. Another assist from Sarah Mollison – this time to Footscray teammate Abbie Burgess - and the game was square. For the remainder of the time leading up to half time, Victoria took advantage of their greater depth in attack. In defence Audrey Fithall and then Bridget Hogan shared responsibility for denial defence on South Australian star Hannah Nielsen. While they were not able to keep her out of the game completely, they worked hard to minimise the damage. Marlee Paton began to impose herself on the game scoring three first half goals, Victoria went into half time with three goal margin – 7 to 4.
The beginning of the second half was similar to the first – even possession and a goal apiece. The first yellow card of the game was against Lauren Hunter. However Victoria were able to hold possession for the most part of the two-minute penalty and no damage was done. Stef McNamara had taken over the defensive duties against Hannah Nielsen and did an excellent containment job. When the players were again even, Victoria scored the next two goals – one to Sarah Mollison and one to Rachel Kirchheimer - and the score was Victoria 10 to South Australia 5. Surely the game was safe. However, through this period Victoria had lost one of their avenues to goal with Hayley Sofarnos leaving the field with a calf injury.
Another yellow card – this time to Abbie Burgess, but the difference was that this time SA was able to take full advantage of the player-up, scoring three goals in the two minutes. With a few minutes still to play, Victoria were feeling the pressure. Centre draws became even more vital; ground balls critical and avoiding turnovers an imperative. Some excellent Victorian pressure on the SA ball carriers and Victoria scored with Rachel Kirchheimer to take a three goal lead with less than two minutes to play. The last score of the game was for SA and came from a loose ball pick-up and then a behind-the-back flick from Hannah Nielsen. The final score Victoria 11 to South Australia 9.
MVP for Victoria for the game was Marlee Paton.
For the fourth year in a row Victoria are senior women’s national champions. Well done to all the players and congratulations to head coach Meredith Carre and the assistant coaches. A worthy result.