Soccer kicks off

The 2022 Steeline Limestone Coast Football Association kicked off in style on Sunday with players, clubs, volunteers and supporters gathering for a huge preseason carnival.

The usual multi-week Steeline Cup was truncated to a single day affair with the men fighting for pride at Casadio Park and the women putting on a show at Malseed Park.

There was plenty of action on and off the pitch with both International and Blue Lake defending home turf with pride in the men’s and women’s competitions respectively.

Meanwhile on the other side of the fence all funds were being raised for some special causes.

All gate takings from Casadio Park went towards the Limestone Coast Prostate Cancer Foundation, while the money raised at Malseed Park was donated to the Mount Gambier Breast Cancer Awareness Group.

After a huge day of action across the two venues, $1000 each was donated to the two bodies, but once presentations rolled around they got more than expected.

Association title sponsor owner/director Tony Steen then announced Steeline will double the donations to $2000 to cap off a great day.

Before all the festivities and proceeds were announced, the players were busy shaking off the rust and getting back into the groove.

Despite all of the usual caveats that are associated with preseason play, it was the perfect opportunity for everyone to show they mean business in 2022 with teams playing each other once in 40-minute helter-skelter affairs.

No team did that more than Blue Lake, which showed no signs of slowing down despite the name change with many familiar names from Aimee Brooks, Adele Wilkinson, Chelsea and Lauren Frost returning.

Having swapped the United red for a new striking Blue Lake blue, red and white kit, the not only looked good, but played with purpose and started the day in formidable fashion.

In the opening game of the day, the hosts did not have any issue accounting for Apollo 4-0.

An even bigger win followed against Naracoorte with six goals being posted, but the Rangers created enough chances to score more.

After two easy wins Blue Lake faced its biggest tests against the two sides it faced off in both grand finals last year.

Centrals was up first and no goals were scored during an enthralling stalemate, while an equally intriguing battle occurred in the grand final rematch against International.

Both sides found the back of the net early, but Blue Lake stepped up when it mattered and scored the winner.

After emerging unscathed from the big games, the Rangers saluted a fine day’s work with a three-goal win over Millicent.

Blue Lake coach Tanya Frost said it was a great experience for her players to build some winning momentum ahead of the season.

“It was really good for our younger players to be apart of this,” she said.

“There is a good mix of youth and experience and a big focus for us was structure and we did that.

“We are super excited about the year going forward.”

After playing back-to-back games all day, Blue Lake captain Aimee Brookes said the new experience was a taxing one.

“It was a very tiring day, especially being a warm one because we are used to playing in winter weather,” she said.

“But we have a few players who play summer sports which helped us and our fitness will get there.”

It was not only a mighty effort from the playing group, but it was an achievement for the entire club to make the carnival happen.

The women’s event was also supposed to take place at Casadio Park, but was moved to Malseed Park at the last minute.

Frost paid credit to all of her fellow club people to make play possible with lines marked around 12 hours before kick off.
“It was just amazing because the club banded together,” Frost said.

“Everyone did their bit if it was cleaning changerooms or marking the pitch or getting bins ready and made it happen.”

The undefeated campaign reestablishes Blue Lake’s reign as the preseason queens of the competition having took out last year’s Steeline Cup.

Frost is well aware of what happened last year and said the team is only thinking about going one better.

“There are always things to improve on and the real season starts now,” she said.

“After we won preseason last year but lost at the final hurdle we are pretty keen and hungry.
“This is a bonus because our sights are well and truly set on the main season.”

A young Centrals side also impressed starting the day with a couple of big wins over Millicent and Naracoorte.

Erin Horsnell returned to the line up and made an immediate impact scoring multiple goals, while the team ended the day on a high beating the reining premier Inter after a couple of dogged draws.

International rotated its stars such as Tess Andrews and Ella Doody throughout the day and although it did not achieve the success it may had hoped, still showed signs of strength.

Apollo fought hard with its draw against Central a source of hope, while little split Millicent and Naracoorte with their exciting head-to-head battle heading to the former by a single goal.

After a big one-day celebration of soccer, the stage is set for a gripping season.

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