Stocky’s Scribbles: The Hurt Locker

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With the ANZAC legend fresh in everyone’s mind, the battle at Hillsview was fought out on the rolling plains and pitch of South Morang on April the 26th.

Words and images by Craig Stockdale

In the minds of many a bystander, this should have been a convincing victory for one of the powerhouse battalions of the SportsMart Women’s Premier League but the one-nil result was indeed propitious.

The Bundoora Women’s First Batallion was littered with experienced Melbourne Victory ‘big guns’ – Maika Ruyter-Hooley, Gulcan Koca, Enza Barilla, Jacqui Vogt along with WPL notaries Stacy Papadopoulos, Padiki Dade and Rachel Alonso. Their sheer size and stature enough to intimidate any a confronting soldier on the front line.

With an average age of 15 years and 7 months, the NTC U17 Girls Light Horse Infantry Regiment took up their positions to defend their ground and fight against the tall and mighty on this auspicious day. And fight they did – with another wonderful display of aggressive, controlled, on ball possession football that belied their years on the pitch.

Major General Joseph Montemurro had strategically prepared for the battle at hand and knew the contest would be won in the trenches of the defensive line. Rallying his troops, he positioned Lieutenant Jamie Brown in the bunker ably supported by Captain Maddy Stockdale and privates Giulia Sepe, Jaimee Williams, Sky Jensen, Jade Feakes and Anabel Martin who collectively were looking to thwart the many attacks from the opposition advances.

May it be said, this defensive unit was undeniably impenetrable for the majority of the day and quite often do not get the accolades of those at the other end of the battle field. Williams, Sepe and Martin made many a great tackles while all creating some outstanding runs up their respective corridors to create forward opportunities for the NTC Girls. Jensen and Stockdale remained steadfast with support from the versatile Feakes (Defensive Midfield) circumventing the opposition onslaught whilst Brown and later in the day Lucinda Kolissis defended gallantly denying Bundoora on multiple occasions.

In the trenches were second Lieutenant Beattie Goad along with the Officer Cadets – Adriana and Melissa Taranto looking to launch a series of attacks up forward. It was here in the Hurt Locker of Hillsview that the three midfielders really took the game up to the more experienced Bundoora battalion with some aggressive on ball play, clever steals and solid possession football that maintained the NTC composure for the entire match. This triumvirate with the addition of Jade Feakes, were superb in breaking down the possession of the Bundoora midfielders and arresting control of the ball for the younger NTC Girls eleven.

Taking up position on the front line were gunners Georgia Alberti, Emily Harbis, Noel Boersma, Janna Lawson and Alexi Garcia all surveying the enemy looking for weaknesses in the defensive armour of Bundoora and their chance to take a shot on the target up forward.

After unsuccessful limited attacks in the first half, the only real opportunity for Bundoora came with a striking right footer from the boot of Rachel Alonso that evaded NTC keeper Brown finally ricocheting off the far post and back into play resulting in no casualty on the score board.

It was not long after this that NTC had their best chance of the game to score. Beattie Goad swerved and dodged her way through the defensive line of Bundoora resulting in a one-on-one with the Bundoora Keeper Tori Snelleksz. The resultant shot on goal aimed at the right hand bottom corner of the net was unable to penetrate the outstretched hands of the advancing keeper.

The NTC Girls were indefatigable with their constant pressure on the Bundoora ball carriers and once again had the majority of possession in the first half but without score board presence – Nil all at half time.

What a performance by the NTC Girls. The sidelines were abuzz with plaudits from many supporters and onlookers who did not expect the continuous on ball aggression, technical superiority and certainly the off ball positioning by the younger NTC brigade. Hats off to a great first half display by both teams played in an admirable spirit across the pitch.

With the battle lines drawn for the second half, NTC Girls came out firing and very nearly stole a march on the Bundoora defensive line when Janna Lawson sent a low flying missile into the mouth of the goal line that saw the ball spill from a desperate lunge by the Bundoora keeper and a flurry of feet clear the ball from impending danger. Georgia Alberti was elusive up forward causing concern for the Bundoora camp while Emily Harbis was wagering her own war against the defensive giantess Maika Ruyter-Hooley – twice her size.

The NTC Girls continued to defend strongly with little respect for their own safety trying to transition the ball through the Bundoora midfield for a chance up forward. Stringing together an impressive combination of one touch passes right up the pitch, the Taranto Twins looked progressively dangerous opening up runs for Lawson and Martin to cross back into the box but all to no avail.

When the battle looked like succumbing to a truce by both sides, up stepped the diminutive yet ferocious competitor Enza Barilla for Bundoora managing to run onto a vacant ball and slot a right footer wide of the advancing NTC keeper Brown to register the winning shot for the game. 1-0 to Bundoora in the dying minutes and not the result the NTC Girls deserved.

When the whistle sounded, there was a mighty sigh of relief from the Bundoora camp knowing they had snatched victory from an impressive NTC Girls outfit that are now starting to combine together and gain valuable experience at every outing in the SportsMart Women’s Premier League.

Although this battle was lost, the war continues with NTC Girls taking on the might of last year’s runners up South Melbourne this Friday night. This will sporn another learning curve for the youngsters.

Personally, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the ANZACs having lost six family members across multiple wars. Anzac Day itself goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day on which we remember all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. The spirit of Anzac, with its human qualities of courage, mateship, and self-sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity. It is on the many sporting fields across this great country that this legend lives on – both male and female codes.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Lest we forget.

Bundoora United 1 (Enza Barilla 80’) defeated NTC U17 Girls 0

NTC U17 Girls: 1. Jamie Brown, 2. Giulia Sepe, 3. Jaimee Williams, 5. Sky Jensen, 6. Adriana Taranto, 7. Emily Harbis, 8. Melissa Taranto, 11. Noel Boersma, 14. Maddy Stockdale, 15. Georgia Alberti, 18. Beatrice Goad

Subs: 4. Jade Feakes, 12. Alexi Garcia, 13. Annabel Martin, 20. Lucinda Kolissis, 19. Janna Lawson

Bundoora United: 20. Tori Snelleksz, 13. Claudia Fruscalzo, 4. Melissa Missailidis, 23. Maika Ruyter-Hooley, 9. Tyla-Jay Vlajnic, 5. Jackie Vogt, 10. Gulcan Koca, 6. Padiki Dade, 14. Rachel Alonso, 8. Adelyn Ayton, 3. Stephanie Galea

Subs: 7. Enza Barilla, 18. Stacey Papadopoulos, 2. Julia Sardo, 19. Ilona Jakub, 15. Matilda Ford

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