All roads led to Casadio Park in the 12th round of the 2022 Steeline Bendigo Bank Limestone Coast Football Association Senior Women’s season as International and Blue Lake faced off in a finals preview.
It was a big game with the Rangers keen to showcase their improvement in their last contest against reigning premiers before the conclusion of the minor rounds.
The black and blue are the only team yet to avoid defeat and maintained that proud record after holding off a spirited effort from the visitors.
In tough winter conditions, Blue Lake started strong and put the hosts under pressure early.
This was a surprise given International’s fine record and the fact the Rangers had to reshuffle their side due to sickness and unavailability.
With her teammates pressing hard, Chelsea Frost had enough momentum behind her back to score the opening goal of the game.
The strike at the 15-minute mark suddenly brought the game alive and raised the possibility of an upset win.
But the blow made International shift into gear and find the perfect response at the perfect time.
The hosts levelled the scores thanks to the boot of Tess Andrews, who stepped up with her bullet shot which the defenders could not handle.
Suddenly in the blink of an eye Blue Lake went from hero to zero and normal service resumed.
Andrews continued to threaten with her drive and pace through the midfield which kept the Rangers defenders on their toes and eventually she found the back of the net again.
Shortly before half time the star player scored a second goal to ensure Inter marched into the break with a commanding 2-1 lead.
Now armed with the wind during a gloomy second half, International was too tough to stop.
The home side dominated the play after the main break with the likes of Skye Robertson, Ella Doody and April Hockey giving it their all.
Despite many Inter players getting close, the back of the net was not found for the majority of the final 45 minutes.
Often in their way were Eve Maywald and goalkeeper Richelle Huntly, who showed some grit in the tough conditions.
But eventually the class of Doody proved too much and she was rewarded for her efforts by scoring a late goal.
It completed a solid 3-1 win for International which was another positive step taken in its 2022 season.
Millicent v Gambier Centrals
Millicent caused the big upset of the 12th round of the season by overcoming favourite Gambier Centrals.
The Lions travelled to McLaughlin Park hopeful of victory sitting one spot and two games clear of Millicent on the ladder.
However, they were caught off guard by a home side fighting to keep its season alive.
Millicent was boosted by mother nature with the wind behind its back in the first half.
The hosts backed their structure to hold firm and it did with Centrals struggling to get the back into its attacking third.
With all of the play down its end, Millicent was able to build the pressure, but the likes of Rose Irakoze and Andi Corfield held firm and showed some resistance in the Lions’ defence.
The pattern of Millicent attacks being repelled was the trend of the first 15 minutes of play until the referee called a free kick against Centrals within scoring range.
Centre back Leonnie Mccallum took the honours of taking the kick and she delivered under pressure by curling the ball above Centrals goalkeeper Bronwyn Mitchell.
The strike turned out to be the knockout blow as neither could score across a tense second half which sealed Millicent’s biggest win of the year.
Victorious coach Stephan Galli said the team knew the importance of the game and delivered.
“We started with the mindset of it being a must win game or draw to be back in the running for fourth on the ladder,” he said.
“It was a cold and windy day, but the players knew what we were in for and we kept to our game plan and structure.
“We had to defend hard in the second half and Centrals found it hard to score.
“When the final whistle went everyone was getting tired, but it was a great home game to watch.”
Naracoorte v Apollo
Apollo had no concerns knocking off Naracoorte away from home on Sunday.
Despite a sweet strike from H Fulton bringing the home crowd to its feet, the hosts could not compete with the scoring versatility of the visitors.
Paris Ackland, Deni Atkin and Zoe Brooksby all scored multiple goals to seal a strong 9-1 triumph.