Women's Football Grand Final Recaps
By Lincoln Edmunds
Division 1 Grand Final – Endeavour Hills 6.7-43 def Oakleigh District 4.8-32
Endeavour Hills have capped off a phenomenal season, claiming their maiden SFNL Women’s premiership following a classic Grand Final against a brave Oakleigh District outfit.
The result caps off a perfect season for the Falcons who did not drop a game all season to assert themselves as a juggernaut of the competition.
Following the pain of the 2018 decider, the Falcons returned to the big stage with great hunger and entered Saturday’s clash against District as firm favourites.
But District, fresh off two brilliant wins, came in with plenty of confidence and belief that they could upset the apple cart.
And the underdogs got off to the perfect start, as young gun Kayla Germanier slotted the first goal of the afternoon inside the opening minutes.
More significant however was the fact that District had drawn first blood against the breeze, with just eight points scored in four quarters down that end of the ground in the Division 2 Grand Final.
It was short lived though, as Laura Johnston put the Falcons on the board shortly after with a brilliant finish off a few steps in the forward pocket.
It was Johnston again just minutes later, as Scout Strong’s decisive ruckwork allowed the dashing mid to kick her second running goal in succession.
After the fast start, both sides seemed to tighten up in defence and choke up any free ball movement with no further goals in the quarter.
Oakleigh District would’ve been delighted with this result, trailing by only eight points at quarter time after battling against the stiff breeze first up.
And they started the second term on fire, as skipper Jordan Mifsud’s centre clearance went straight down the throat of Emily Beventyre who made no mistake from the set shot.
The Falcons were quick to respond though, as Alyssa Weston pounced on a loose ball in the forward pocket before finding her trusty right boot to boot a cracking goal.
Unfortunately the match was halted just moments later after an accidental collision between Scout Strong and Tyra Collinson, with Collinson clutching her knee after landing awkwardly.
The District defender’s day over with what appeared to be a serious knee injury in what can only be described as rotten luck.
After the brief delay, Strong sent the ball to the top of the square where Alyssa Weston showed her versatility with a strong mark before converting the set shot.
Suddenly the wind factor had seemingly diminished such was the effectiveness of the Falcons ball movement.
But just as Endeavour Hills threatened to breakaway, Jessica Szalek stepped up with a big goal moments before half time to slash the margin to single figures.
With just five points separating the teams and with the wind appearing to ease off, the game was poised beautifully for a cracking second half.
However news emerged from the change rooms that Bayley Mifsud’s day was done after injuring her shoulder, leaving the District two rotations down for the remainder of the afternoon.
Fresh from the week off, the Falcons knew they were close to breaking the game open.
But District continued to battle on and fought hard to lock up the scoring after the half time resumption.
It fell to Falcons co-captain Amanda Hancock to break the deadlock, with the skipper making no mistake from her set shot.
The goal gave the Falcons some much needed breathing space before Cathleen Vincent burst through onto a loose ball and slotted one of the goals of the afternoon.
It was almost a knockout blow right on the three quarter time siren, with District understandably beginning to tire in the latter stages.
Taking the biggest lead of the day into the final change, the Falcons could almost taste the sweet success of premiership glory.
But Oakleigh started the last stanza strongly, winning plenty of the football to create a few anxious moments for the Falcons coaching staff.
Emily Beventyre was looking particularly dangerous and turned District’s dominance into a goal, smartly snapping around the corner from a handball receive to slash the margin to 13 points with ten minutes to play.
Unfortunately that was as good as it got for District, as the Falcons were able to stop any further significant scores to withstand the District challenge and claim the Premiership cup.
The result capping off a season of utter domination, with the Falcons redeeming last season’s heartbreak with their first Women’s flag.
Scout Strong was once again a force in the ruck for the Falcons and took home the best afield medal after the umpires adjudged her as the best player on the ground.
The performance caps off a simply incredible debut season for Strong, who could hardly have achieved more in her first season of footy.
Laura Jonston was also superb for the Falcons, kicking two goals and standing up on the big stage.
The result was further soured for Oakleigh, as skipper Jordy Mifsud went down in the final seconds with a broken fibula in an accidental leg clash.
The gun ball magnet was simply phenomenal before the late incident and at times seemed to be carrying the side on her back.
Her side will have lost absolutely no fans after such a brave display against the all-conquering Falcons.
But as the curtain comes down on season 2019 there’s no doubt that this was the year of the Falcons.
ENDEAVOUR HILLS 2.2, 4.2, 6.6, 6.7-43
OAKLEIGH DISTRICT 1.0, 3.3, 3.4, 4.8-32
Goal Kickers: A. Weston 2, L. Jonston 2, A. Hancock, C. Vincent
Best Players: L. Jonston , S. Strong, N. Weston, C. Vincent, A. Hancock, S. Christiansen
Goal Kickers: E. Beventyre 2, J. Szalek, K. Germanier
Best Players: J. Mifsud, J. Cheng, E. Beventyre, A. Brown, J. Szalek, J. Bray
Division 2 Grand Final – Lyndale 8.11-59 def Hallam 5.6-36
Lyndale have claimed their first Women’s premiership following a blistering first quarter performance which set them on the path to glory.
Four goals in the opening term stunned the Hawks, who were left to play catch up the rest of the afternoon and ultimately were never able to bridge the gap.
Both teams were treated to glorious sunshine upon arrival at Meade Reserve with a stiff breeze to one end of the ground the only concern.
With a cracking crowd in the house, the banners in place and the national anthem in full swing, excitement levels were at fever pitch for a ripping contest between two evenly matched teams.
There was a nice moment pregame as opposing skippers and good mates, Michelle Thomas and Natalie Horua embraced at the toss.
Hallam called correctly at the flip of the coin and curiously decided to kick against the breeze to start proceedings.
As crazy as it seemed there was certainly some logic behind it, with all teams in Division 2 winning their finals matchup when kicking with the breeze in the final stanza.
Nevertheless it was a brave decision and one which gave the Pumas the chance to set the tone.
And boy did they do just that, dominating forward territory to have the Hawks on the back foot early.
Alesha Thorne seemingly kicked the first goal of the game after she swung onto her trusty left boot, only for the goal umpire to deny the Pumas forward an otherwise perfect start.
It didn’t matter though, as the kick out landed straight in Thorne’s lap before she turned and launched a long range belter to put the first major on the scoreboard.
Shortly later Michelle Thomas burst through with clean hands to kick a beauty on the run to get her Puma teammates up and about.
The Hawks defenders were under siege early and looked rattled from the fast and deep ball movement.
Two more goals through Jess McDonald and Thorne meant that the margin had swelled out to 29 points in the blink of an eye.
At this stage it was a question of how much, not if for the Pumas.
The quarter time siren provided the Hawks with some welcome relief, with the chance to regroup and reset following the initial ambush.
The change of ends saw Hallam settle and get into the contest with ball in hand, but Lyndale’s defence stood solidly to hold fort early on.
Half an hour after the first bounce, the Hawks finally hit the scoreboard following a strong mark from the skipper Horua.
That seemed to kick-start things for Hallam as moments later, Jessie Wilkinson laid a brilliant tackle in front of goal and put through the Hawks second major within a minute.
Suddenly it was Lyndale’s turn to be under pressure as the Hawks trapped the ball inside their forward 50.
Some great forward pressure from Jessica Wilkins saw her rewarded with a free kick, which she converted from the set shot no problems.
Three quick goals in the space of five minutes and suddenly it was game on.
Just like the opening term, not a single score was registered against the breeze, with all the attacking taking place right in front of the Ted Holt Hill.
With just nine points between the two sides at the main break, it was all set up for an exciting second half.
The ‘Premiership quarter’ couldn’t have been more accurate with the next 20 minutes likely to decide who would lift the cup.
With the breeze at their backs the Pumas knew they have to make the most of it and set out to repeat their first quarter heroics.
And they did just that, with three crucial goals to Courtney Axisa, Jess McDonald and Alesha Thorne pushing the margin and momentum back the Pumas way.
A 31 point lead appeared to be enough at the last break, but as the Hawks showed in the second term it was possible to string goals together quickly.
Once again it was Hallam skipper Horua who would provide the early spark, kicking a clutch set shot from a tight angle to start the term.
It fell to Horua again moments later, laying a strong tackle to kick her third set shot goal of the afternoon to give the Hawks a slight sniff.
But Elaine Parkinson broke Hallam hearts when a clever soccer off the deck put through the first goal against the breeze, sealing the flag for Lyndale.
The final siren confirming the Pumas first premiership in the SFNL Women’s competition and a richly deserved one too.
Pip Attard and Jessica McDonald were superb for Lyndale, winning plenty of crunch footy and providing plenty of drive through the middle.
Alesha Thorne was also brilliant up forward, kicking three important goals to be the most dangerous forward on the ground.
Elizabeth Hogan was judged best afield by the umpires and took home the medal for best on ground following her shutdown role on key Hawk Chloe Marquison.
While it’s been a tough season for the men’s side down at Barry Powell Reserve, the Women have brought some much needed joy and positivity to the club.
The flag is a cherry on top of what has been a brilliant season for the team.
In the opposition camp, the Hawks gallantly fought back on numerous occasions and made the Pumas sweat but ultimately will rue the opening stages where Lyndale seemed to settle quicker.
Natalie Horua was inspirational for her side, leading from the front with three goals and at times single handily kept her Hawks in the contest.
Jaimi Kerr was also strong in the ruck, while Lauren Welsh and Mikeeli Hagger can also hold their heads high after good performances.
Just reaching the last Saturday of the season is a mighty fine achievement for the Hawks, who have improved out of sight from last season.
With another preseason under their belts, expect Hallam to be right back up at the pointy end in 2020.
LYNDALE 4.5, 4.5, 7.9, 8.11-59
HALLAM 0.0, 3.2, 3.2, 5.6-36
Goal Kickers: A. Thorne 3, J. McDonald 2, C. Axisa, M. Thomas, E. Parkinson
Best Players: E. Hogan , A. Thorne, P. Attard, J. McDonald, J. Lyons, S. Anderson
Goal Kickers: N. Horua 3, J. Wilkinson, J. Wilkins
Best Players: N. Horua, J. Kerr, L. Welsh, M. Hagger, H. Gasparini, J. Wilkins