NSW Lightning 1 (Michiru Awazu 24’) Victoria 0
NSW Lightning made it to the Grand Final of the Open Women’s competition at the FFA National Futsal Championships after narrowly seeing off Victoria 1-0 in an enthralling semi-final played at the AIS Arena in front of an appreciative crowd. There was very little to choose between the teams in the opening half as the two teams sized each other up with the pressure of the occasion perhaps causing a stifling of play from both parties. Set-pieces seemed the most likely way to goal with Lightning going close in only the fourth minute when Dominique Caridad saw her free-kick cleared off the line by Sienna Fogarty. At the other end a howitzer from Madelaine Richardson was palmed to safety by Sarah Easthope as the intensity rose but half-time arrived with the score-line still blank. When the deadlock was broken the goal came in unfortunate circumstances. Elizabeth Sarcevic in the Victorian goal attempted to clear only for the ball to ricochet off her own player and roll towards goal where Michiru Awazu couldn’t miss, tapping in from one metre to give Lightning the lead. Victoria fought valiantly to find a way back and only a brave sliding stop by Dana Buttigieg denied Richardson an equaliser. Victoria thought they had got it in the 36th minute when Buttigieg, under pressure, saw the ball come out of her hands and be bundled in but the officials called a foul on the Lightning stopper.
ACT 0 NSW Thunder 2 (Sarah Yatim 13’, Rachel Perrins 35’)
NSW Thunder booked a place in the Grand Final against their NSW Lightning peers after ending the ACT’s reign as Champions with a 2-0 victory in the second semi-final at the AIS Arena. Goals from Sarah Yatim and Rachel Perrins were enough to seal the win. With a place in the Grand Final against NSW Lightning at stake, and with these two teams used to success, something had to give and in an appropriately tense encounter no quarter was given. Laura Donnelly was her usual energetic self for Thunder, buzzing around the court and prompting attacks with incisive passing whilst Ashleigh Palombi provide the ACT’s main attacking spark. It was Thunder who struck the decisive blow of the first half as Yatim was left unmarked mid-court and hammered a drive at goal that beat the dive of Luisa Marzotto and flew into the back of the net. That strike gave the Thunder a slender half-time lead. ACT roared onto the offensive after the break and Tani Rosekelly was called upon to make an excellent save from Hayley Buckingham. With six minutes to play the ACT moved to the fifth player ploy putting Palombi into the goalkeeper jersey in an attempt to break down the solid Thunder defence. But the ploy back-fired as Thunder won the ball on half-way and Perrins was left with an open goal and the simple task of rolling it home.
Friday 17th January
17:00: NSW Lightning v NSW Thunder
3 Erin CLOUT, Ashleigh PALOMBI (ACT), Claire WALSH (NSW Thunder)
2 Hayley BUCKINGHAM, Becky ROCHE (ACT), Dominique CARIDAD, Ceyda CAMBAZ (NSW Lightning), Doris OSMAN, Rachel PERRINS (NSW Thunder), Rhiannon EGLINTON, Jamilla HULL, Renae PANTELIS (South Australia), Marijana RAJCIC, Kristin STENSHOLT (Victoria)
1 Michelle AUROUSSEAU, Maja BLASCH, Michaela DAY, Nikola ORGILL (ACT), Michiru AWAZU, Logan GARARD, Kathryn MLADINEO (NSW Lightning), Laura DONNELLY, Jo-Anne SALIBA, Sarah YATIM (NSW Thunder), Shannon ADAMS, Susan BASSETT, Amelia PACILLO (South Australia), Sienna FOGARTY, Melissa MISSAILIDIS, Madelaine RICHARDSON, Liesl WOODS (Victoria), Own GOAL