Dumont heroics deny Sydney FC a championship for second straight year

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Sydney FC have been stunned yet again by Melbourne Victory, whose fairytale story this season was quickly downplayed by the Sky Blues head coach.

Amidst a regular season of countless team and individual records, A-League Women premiers Sydney FC were undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with as they came up against Melbourne Victory on grand final day – a side that had barely scraped through to the finals series with just seven goals separating them from fifth-placed Perth Glory.

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“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” so the expression goes. For the Melbourne sides, the 2021/22 season was quite the contrary.

The Victory just so happened to peak at the right time, storming into the big occasion with a courageous 2-1 win against a red-hot Adelaide United, as well as rolling local rivals Melbourne City 3-1 in last week’s preliminary final.

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All was achieved despite playing effectively their entire season within the space of two months – having played just six league matches before February – as the Victorians ended up humbling their Big Blue rivals for the second year running on Sunday 2-1.

As for the home side, it was an agonising fourth defeat in their fifth consecutive grand final, despite dominating their Melbourne opposition on the day with 20 attempts on goal to seven.

“We dominated today, so really, we play another nine times, we win eight,” said Sky Blues head coach Ante Juric.

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The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the man at the Sydney helm, particularly coming off their last-gasp defeat to the Victory in both the previous year’s decider and a 2-2 draw in mid-February after letting slip a two goal lead.

Despite crediting the Victorian side’s tactical approach to the game on Sunday, a dejected Juric had a slightly different view of the opposition’s route to the championship decider.

“Tactically they got it right,” he said.

“They actually sat back more than the last time (we played them), which was surprising but it worked for them on the break.

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“Luck was on their side for a couple of weeks. They snuck in against Adelaide, they got through on four mistakes from City, and today they got through from our missed chances.

“So you’ve got to take that and now they’ve got a championship. We don’t.”

Despite the eventual defeat, a glimmer of hope was cruelly brought to Sky Blues fans with 25 minutes remaining, and was brought on by their unprecedented comeback from two goals down a couple of weeks earlier.

When Cortnee Vine struck back in the 66th minute, just two minutes after Catherine Zimmerman fired home for the Victory’s second, the Sydneysiders remained hopeful of a comeback also kickstarted by Vine in their 4-2 semi-final win.

But it was not to be for the season’s premiers, as the Victory held on much to the delight of their head coach.

“It wasn’t a pretty game, we were under some unbelievable pressure at times,” said coach Jeff Hopkins.

“But the girls managed to do what they’ve done all season and come through it. We came out of a few of those spells and actually came out stronger.”

Instrumental in the 90 minutes was veteran goalkeeper Casey Dumont who overcame multiple injuries, at the end of last season, leading up to and during Sunday’s decider, to see out a player of the match, and perhaps a career-best performance.

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She was subsequently praised by Hopkins for her bravery.

“In big games she would perform, but also against adversity, she got smashed down in the second half, I wasn’t worried,” he said.

“I knew she would get up, and she killed.”

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne Victory

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Jimmy Alexander
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/22 A-League season. Studying a Bachelor of Sports Media (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University.

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