The ACT is the king of Australian men’s futsal for the second year in a row after coming back from a goal down to defeat the NSW Thunder 3-1 in the grand final at the AIS Arena on Friday.
Attacker Daniel Bennett set up the equaliser and scored the go-ahead goal, while Trent Flanigan sealed the title with a strike from three-quarter court when the Thunder removed their goalkeeper late in the game.
Bennett, 20, was one of the new additions to the ACT squad this year and was named player of the final.
”It’s fantastic seeing this is my first year,” he said.
”Most of the boys have done it already, so it’s good to have one.”
After a cagey opening from both sides, NSW Thunder finally got the breakthrough in the 16th minute when Jordan Mundell tapped in a deflection on the left post from ACT goalkeeper Angelo Konstantinou.
The ACT hit back at the start of the second half, Bennett sliding a ball across the face of goal and Michael Reeve slamming in from close range to level the scores.
Bennett’s pace down the right flank continued to trouble the Thunder defence.
This time he finished the play himself, firing in a spectacular strike from an acute angle to put the ACT in front.
”Over the course of the week we deserved to win,” Bennett said.
”For the other boys it’s pretty special to go back to back. It proves we’re one of the more dominant futsal states in the country.”
Flanigan put the icing on the cake, scoring from long range with 11 seconds on the clock.
Midfielder Robbie Cattanach was named as the player of the tournament, and also collected the golden boot with eight goals.
In the open women’s grand final, the NSW Thunder, which knocked out defending champion the ACT in Thursday night’s semi-final, lifted the trophy with a thrilling 3-1 extra-time win against the NSW Lightning.
There was some consolation for the ACT, with striker Ashleigh Palombi a joint winner of the women’s player-of-the-tournament award, and she was also in a three-way tie for the golden boot.
Two other ACT teams collected national titles – the under-16 men’s side winning a penalty shootout 3-1 against the Thunder after the scores were two-all at the end of extra time, and the mixed athletes with a disability division side beating the Thunder 2-1.
The ACT finished runner-up in the youth men, youth women and under-16 girls divisions.
ACT 3 (Michael Reeve 22′, Daniel Bennett 24′, Trent Flanigan 40′) bt NSW THUNDER 1 (Jordan Mundell 16′) at the AIS Arena on Friday.