Stocky’s Scribbles: Girls Will Be Girls

With Melbourne Victory Women’s star Steph Catley back from her successful European Matildas tour, the NTC Girls were primed to tackle one of the U15A ladder leaders Whittlesea Ranges under lights at Darebin. Coach Dave Edmondson was away on interstate travel so assistant coach Kat Smith stepped up to the plate (another sporting pun) and was very vocal in firing up the girls for what was a formidable task on the night. Uncharacteristically for mid-July, the fifteen degree evening was juxtaposed with a very light northerly wind that made the evening perfect conditions to play Football. The sidelines were abuzz with anticipation and the boys ready for action against the girls. With a week off due to school holidays, both teams were chaffing at the bit for the whistle to sound. Steph and Maddie Smith kicked off the game with the youngster Beth Mason-Jones guarding the net supported by a stella defensive line combining the experience and youth of Bella Scott, Maddie Stockdale, Marianna Anthony and Steph Catley. In the spotlight controlling the midfield was the consistent and reliable Kate Fotopoulos backed up by Melbourne Victory Women’s representatives Cindy Lay and Tiffany Eliadis. Eliadis is having a tremendous season with Sth Melbourne in The Victorian Womens Premier League and is one of the primary reasons why South are entrenched at the top of the table. Her speed, touch and pinpoint passing have been evident in the NTC games and when faced with opportunities up forward, Tiff converts on a regular basis. Up forward the relentless tackler Phoebe Parker was augmented by goal sneak Box Hill guest Ally Curo and NTC youngster Edita Mackaj. Warming the bench were the very talented Eleni Fakos (returning from injury), Lucy Kennedy and Zoe Stamatopoulos. All set. The whistle sounds, the opposing coach bellows the word "PRESS", the boys advance forward in numbers, a misguided pass crosses the top of the box and within 15 seconds the ball ends up In the back of the net! 1 nil to Whittlesea. Blank faces and comments of WTFH (where to from here), echo from the NTC Girls defensive line. Shell shocked, the NTC Girls begin to claw back the ball and settle into the pace of the game after a very rude awakening by the boys. For the next 33 minutes the NTC Girls hold their own with some of the best the Boys U15A North League has to offer. The speed, off ball movement and decision making by the boys is evident and the response from the NTC Girls was equally admirable with youngsters Stockdale, Scott and Anthony consistently under pressure in defense. Possession was at the core of Smith's message to the NTC Girls and they certainly had their fair share of it in the first half. It was 15 minutes into the game when Phoebe Parker created a scare by dropping to the pitch holding her leg and unable to get up. After several minutes it was unearthed that Parker was actually OK but Catley had a ‘hair misdemeanor’ and needed time to readjust her bun! Girls will be girls and of course all the Boys had no idea of what was happening :-). Smirks all round as this one went to the girls…… Holding off the many advances by the boys, controlling the midfield and distributing to the wingers the NTC Girls performed well under extreme pressure. Several attempts on goal by the NTC Girls were thwarted by the Whittlesea goal keeper. Having players like Catley and Brianna Davey (Matilda’s number 1 goal keeper not on the pitch tonight) not only brings amazing depth to the lineup but more importantly adds confidence and leadership that the NTC Girls feed off every time they get to play with them. Both girls at 19 years old are veterans and impart invaluable knowledge and learnings on the pitch that add to the developmental fabric of the NTC program. It took until the last minute of play for the Whittlesea Boys to register goal number 2 and head to the break with a nice buffer against the NTC girls. What was obvious to all across the pitch and from the sidelines was that “Aidan” needed to lift his game as the bellowing from the Whittlesea bench was clearly heard down as far as Northland Shopping Center. Asked who was to blame in the NTC for the final goal in the first quarter by Whittlesea, it was even touted that poor Aidan was the likely culprit. The boys were holding no prisoners in the second half and certainly came out with a fierce but fair attack on the ball. Whittlesea are a very good team and played some very smart, well-structured play that the NTC girls will learn from. Minutes in, a Whittlesea pass ricocheted off the NTC goal keepers hand and bounced into the net for an own goal – 3 nil to Whittlesea. What was pleasing for Smith was that her instructions were being heeded by the NTC Girls and through some solid possession play out of defense and up the wings, the NTC were able to take a number of attempts on goal – the result was not forthcoming but the buildup was a sight to be seen. Great work girls. The game ended with a solid workout for both teams but the boys taking the honours on this occasion. Certainly, the NTC Girls can keep their heads high as they have combined well under extreme pressure to have a significant portion of possession but with no reward. Let it be said, the Whittlesea Rangers conducted themselves in a fair but competitive nature and congratulations to the team for the remainder of the season. Source: Words By: Craig Stockdale
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