It was a warm Sunday afternoon for our U15 Parramatta girls at Lambert Park yesterday. A later than usual 1pm kick off and the synthetic pitch made playing conditions uncomfortable.
The Minor Premiers, Western NSW Mariners, were a formidable opposition, having been one of only 2 sides to take all 3 points from us this season. They are a physical team with some brilliant individuals and always have a very strong start to a match.
Early on it was obvious the heat was going to be an issue for both sides.Parramatta coach Andrew Vicary made some early interchanges as we were not maintaining possession for long spells in the opening exchanges. The Mariners had the better of the chances early and would have opened the scoring but for our desperate defence and brilliant goalkeeping from Keely Segavcic. The best opportunity to breach our goal in the first half came from a 19 yard free kick which shaved the crossbar.
The hard work of Charlotte Schonhagen and Brooke Hastie in the midfield brought us a reward 7 minutes from half-time, as a long range free kick from Brooke took a deflection and found the net. 1-nil Parramatta.
The score remained that way at half time and well into the second half. Both sides were tiring in the second half and the Mariners had the better share of the possession, creating a number of opportunities which were often shut down by our last defender. A lapse in concentration from a very well executed corner gave the Mariners the equaliser they were chasing with 5 minutes remaining in the match. Mariners went hard after the win in the remaining few minutes and it was clear they were using long balls in the final minutes – to no evail. Full time 1-1.
No one was looking forward to the 20 minutes of added time and a goal was needed by either team if a penalty shootout was to be avoided. Early in the first period of extra time, we produced some fast build up from the back and were able to some pressure on the Mariners left hand defence creating an opportunity. Tiana Anderson held the ball up for a perfectly timed pass to put Radae Mohammadi just clear of some desperate defence. Despite some attention, Radea provided an elegant finish and pushed the ball past a diving Mariners keeper.
The much needed goal brought some changes to bolster our defence to close out the match 2-1 after extra time.
Our girls now join our Minor Premiership winning and very successful U17s team in the Grand Final next Sunday! Both Parramatta teams will be looking for your support again this week as they play UNSW for the opportunity to be 2017 Champions, in what is certain to be a very exciting day for Parramatta FC.