Westfield W-League Season Review from a Roar Fan

The 2011/12 season of the Westfield W-League competition began on October the 22nd 2011. For the Roar this meant a re- match of the 2010/11 Grand Final against Sydney at Leichhardt Oval, NSW.

REVIEW BY A MAD ROAR FAN By Nichole Conolly Monday 6th February 2012

ROUND 1 vs. SYDNEY The 2011/12 season of the Westfield W-League competition began on October the 22nd 2011. For the Roar this meant a re- match of the 2010/11 Grand Final against Sydney at Leichhardt Oval, NSW. This would also give Australian Fans the first chance to see talented American Footballer Megan Rapinoe play live as she pulled on the Sky Blue jersey. Both teams were without key players through either injury or engagements in overseas football competitions.

This contest ended in a 1-1 draw between the two sides. Goals scored by Renee Rollason (Sydney) and Jo Burgess (Brisbane)

ROUND 3 (BRISBANE BYE IN WEEK 2) vs. NEWCASTLE With Brisbane Roar having a bye in week 2, the next game would also be their first home game of this season. I-m still not sure what the idea was behind having the majority of the girl-s home games in Cleveland was, not only was it rather warm out there with no proper seating (unless you count the wooden rises) and poor crowd numbers. But back to the game:

This week Brisbane would come up against a strong Newcastle Jets outfit boasting players such as Matilda-s goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri, Emily Van Egmond, German import Ariane Hingst and former Roar player Lisa De Vanna. Brisbane would be out to try and secure their first win of the season, but it wouldn-t be after controversial decisions throughout the game went against Brisbane. These included a collision between keeper Casey Dumont and DeVanna resulting in Dumont being shown a red card. The game ended in a 3-2 win to the visitors.

On a positive note both Brisbane-s goals mirrored each other in spectacular fashion, the first goal slotted home by defender Laura Alleway, the second by Emily Gielnik who actually started on the field.

ROUND 4 vs. ADELAIDE The Brisbane girls were once again away, travelling down to Burton Park in Adelaide. With only one point from the last three games, Brisbane were out for a win to open their W-League account for this season. Brisbane getting off the mark first with a long range shot (and a slight deflection from the opposition) from captain Clare Polkinghorne. Brisbane-s second goal came from Ashley Spina.

The game ended in a 2-1 win to the Brisbane Girls after Marijana Rajcic slotted one home for the home side.

ROUND 5 vs. PERTH Brisbane travelled to 6PR stadium in Perth, looking to continue the winning form of last week with a win over Perth. Tameka Butt opened Brisbane-s account just 6 minutes into the first half of the game with a lovely goal. In the 28th minute of the game, Brisbane coach Jeff Hopkins made a decision to sub Sasha McDonnell off for Emily Gielnik to enter the field. Just before half time Butt slotted a 2nd goal into the net for it to go to half time with Brisbane 2-1 up.

In the 60th minute of the match Gielnik scored her second goal of the season, but the first one after being subbed on, thus beginning the nickname Super Sub which would stick to Gielnik throughout the season. With two more goals to Brisbane, (Polkinghorne and Butt- gaining a hat- trick) they won the match 5-2, taking the 3 points back to the East Coast.

ROUND 6 vs. MELBOURNE After a decision to change the playing field from Suncorp Stadium to Cleveland Showgrounds, both teams coming off big wins the previous week (Melbourne defeated Adelaide 4-0) were hungry for a win in this game. The first half started with Brisbane having far more possession but Melbourne having more chances to score. In the 25th minute Brisbane put the Super Sub on the field when Ashley Spina picked up a season ending ACL injury. Melbourne had many opportunities forcing saves from Dumont, in the 35th minute Melbourne scored but it was judged offside and therefore disallowed.

In the early minutes of the 2nd half, Gielnik scored for the home side making it a 1-0 score line, it would remain this way. Brisbane picking up a vital 3 points at home closing the gap between them and Canberra to 5 points.

ROUND 7 vs. CANBERRA Round 7 would see the 2010/11 season champions come up against league leaders Canberra at Cleveland Showgrounds. Jo Burgess found the net with an 8th minute goal making it 1-0 to the home team but this wouldn-t last long when Kim Carroll receiving a yellow card and conceding a penalty after shoving Canberra player Ashleigh Sykes off the ball within the box. Sally Shipard making no mistake slotting it past Dumont to equalise. In the 70th minute Canberra player Michelle Heyman slotted one past Dumont to make it 2-1 for the visitors.

Now many people would have written off Brisbane right there, but one thing I-ve learnt from the previous seasons is Brisbane really like to do things in the last minute, hence why as I write this review I have no nails and as you can see in the above picture the girls are very good at turning your hair grey. In the 85th minute Brisbane equalised in a defensive error, resulting in an own goal to Canberra captain Ellie Brush making it 2-2. The game would end this way with teams sharing the points.

ROUND 8 vs. ADELAIDE I-m going to be brutally honest here and say this is the game I had looked forward to all season, not due to the teams playing but the location. Having already racked up approximately 18 hours of bus and train travel in just 3 games, this game to be played at Stockland Park, Kawana would be just a 40 minute round trip on the bus for me. Brisbane hosted Adelaide in a desperate game for both teams, Brisbane knowing a win to them could catapult them into 2nd place on the ladder behind Canberra, while Adelaide were still without a win this season.

Brisbane midfielder Aivi Luik opened the goals with a powerful shot from outside the box in the 6th minute went through Adelaide keeper Sian McLaren-s hands and into the net. Gielnik secured the win after being subbed on in the 87th minute, slotting a goal home in the 91st minute after being 1 on 1 with McLaren.

ROUND 9 vs. MELBOURNE Round 9 saw Brisbane Roar travel to Geelong, Victoria to play Melbourne. In very hot and humid conditions, Brisbane and Melbourne played a very tight game. A win for either team would see them take 2nd place on the ladder. The first goal didn-t come till late in the 2nd half when a gorgeous corner kick cross from Melbourne Striker Ashley Brown found the head of midfielder Kendall Fletcher. With the game seemingly in the bag for Melbourne, Polkinghorne crossed it in from the right side of the field to the near post finding Super Sub-s foot; the ball went past keeper Brianna Davey and into the back of the net, in the first minute of injury time. Both teams having missed opportunities throughout the game came away with one point each.

The funny thing about this game is I was actually at a Girl Guides QLD Program Forum and begged them to let me have the game on silent on the TV while we worked (I had to pretend to be paying attention to the forum and I didn-t actually tell them I knew the score already due to the delayed coverage in QLD).

ROUND 11 vs. NEWCASTLE With a round 10 bye, Brisbane travelled to Adamstown Oval in Newcastle determined to win and maybe out to prove themselves after the fiery last clash against Newcastle back on the 5th November at Cleveland. Now for this game I had the pleasure of being around 40 other people who are Lana fans, including her mum and younger brother. I took on the role of chief score updater, staying posted to twitter, facebook and just about anything else I could find. With Lana-s mum running around preparing things, I kept her updated by text message (This does come back into it)

In the 29th minute Lana slotted one over the head of Barbieri to make it 1-0 to the visitors. For the next around 10 minutes I ran around where we were staying excitedly telling everyone about the goal. I texted her mum and her mum got rather excited about this (which I suppose mum-s do).

Newcastle through Linda O-Neill equalised in the 53rd minute after a kick hit the cross bar O-Neill seized the opportunity and slotted it past Dumont. In the 69th minute Gielnik made the score 2-1 after a gorgeous through ball from Polkinghorne found an unmarked Gielnik. Newcastle came painstakingly close to putting another in the net, having many opportunities thwarted by Dumont. A lovely through ball from Butt once again found Gielnik-s foot as she punished Newcastle for being unable to clear the ball, making it 3-1. Brisbane came away with the 3 points and 2nd place on the ladder.

ROUND 12 vs. SYDNEY This game was shaping up to be a huge game for both teams, The Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre in Brisbane was set, the prize: hosting the other team in the Semi Final the following week after Brisbane and Sydney finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. One major change that could be spotted in the starting line- ups was the absence of 19 year old Dumont, Brisbane-s number one keeper since the inaugural season in 2008. This opened the opportunity for 25 year old Japanese keeper Hoshimi Kishi to show the crowd what she was made of and didn-t disappoint with some excellent saves to keep Sydney scoreless.

Both teams were not without attempts on the goals, and very good ones at that. Keepers, Kishi and Sydney-s American keeper Allison Lipsher stepped up a notch in this game. The breakthrough goal came for Brisbane in the 32nd minute after a cross from Jo Burgess came in from the left hand side with the intention of finding Butt. It found Sydney player Teresa Polias who in attempting to put the ball out for a corner accidently put in the back of her own net, making it 1-0 to Brisbane.

Afterwards Lana-s 30 or so member cheer squad that came from Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Canberra and even Adelaide enjoyed a BBQ and Games night with the Brisbane Striker. While playing a game similar to charades where each person had to write 3 things down on a piece of paper placing them in a hat. You could tell Lana had made huge connections with this group (many who have known her, like me for over 10 years) when there was 5 of Lana-s name in amongst all the things.

SEMI FINALS The four teams and positions on the tables were finalised after the final round of the normal season with Canberra taking the minor premiership finishing on 24 points while Brisbane finished on 21 beating Sydney outright for 2nd place. Sydney pipped Melbourne for 3rd place with their Round 7 thrashing of Perth 11-0 playing a huge part, scoring 5 more goals than Melbourne during the regular season.

On Saturday the 21st of January, Canberra hosted Melbourne at McKellar Park. Both teams showed up hungry for a win and it would come down to who wanted it more. Melbourne truly let themselves down during this game, after 3 extremely good chances, Jodie Taylor was just unable to finish off.

In the 83rd minute Heyman found what Canberra was looking for with Melbourne not shutting her down she seemingly weaved her way through the Melbourne defence, her long range shot finding the back of the net after an unfortunate reflection from Melbourne Defender Rebekah Stott. Canberra went ecstatic with celebration.

On Sunday the 22nd of January, Brisbane hosted Sydney at QSAC. Once again both teams were determined to win what would become a highly controversial match. Brisbane would have the bonus that Dumont was back in the no. 1 keeper position.

The crowd of 1600, the biggest seen in Brisbane was there cheering (and drumming) loudly for their respective teams.

Sydney-s Rollason opened the scoring in the 18th minute putting the ball in the back of the net after a beautiful cross in from Servet Uzunlar. The rest of the game would be a hard fought game in the harsh Brisbane heat. The defining and definitely changing moment came in the 94th minute when Brisbane-s Super Sub slotted one in past Allison Lipsher. Many people up in arms, including the Sydney players and coach due to the nature of how the goal was scored. This resulted in a red card for player, Kyah Simon and coach, Alen Stajcic.

With the 1-1 score line at the end of normal and extra game, the game would ultimately be decided by a penalty shootout. Frustrated fans went up in arms when the ABC livestream broadcast ended and people who were watching online were unable to watch the penalties.

With some marvellous goal keeping work by Dumont and with Carroll, Butt, Brooke Spence and Luik all slotting in their penalty attempts. Brisbane were through to the Grand Final.

After the game you could not move round as it felt like being a sardine in a can as the Brisbane players were mobbed by a very happy crowd.

THE GRAND FINAL

After 12 rounds and 2 semi finals it came down to this Canberra vs. Brisbane at McKellar Park.

I left home at 11am AEDT on the Thursday before the match, taking a bus from Caloundra to Landsborough, train from Landsborough to Caboolture, train from Caboolture to Brisbane, bus from Brisbane to Casino, train from Casino to Sydney and eventually a train from Sydney to Canberra I arrived in the capital at 4:25pm AEDT Friday, 29 hours after leaving home (to say I was exhausted was an understatement).

I was picked up from the Canberra Railway Station by Chris (Lana-s mum) and taken to Lana-s older sister-s place where I would stay there. After slightly unpacking, eating and being mobbed by Lana-s young niece and nephew I went to bed at around 8pm.

The next morning started off at 5am and after going to the war museum, we preceded to the school where Chris teaches to pick up a snare drum for Lana-s brother, Terence to use for the Grandfinal. When we got back to the house I went quickly into game ready mode, applying makeup, getting dressed in my costume and packing my game bag.

Getting to the stadium we were amazed to find an already huge line up of people. After catching up with friends Tavis (Canberra Frog) and Mick and Rob (boyfriends of Canberra players Nicole and Ashleigh, the boys are also identical twins).

After interviews and seeing the Brisbane girls before the match, I went in to the stadium where I had won a competition which was rather exciting as I received food during the game, meeting players and other goodies.

At half time it was 2-1 to Canberra after goals to Heyman and A.Sykes. I was selected to take part in the best dressed competition penalty shootout at half time and of my 3 shots one went majorly wide, one was saved by Tavis and one went in. I did win a match ball though which was rather exciting.

As much as I love that our super sub scored our goal it was sad to see her enter the game so early in the game after Jo Burgess obtained an ACL injury and had to be taken from the field. Super Subs goal came about 10 seconds after she entered the game and with her first touch on the ball.

It wasn-t to be Brisbane-s day as Heyman slotted a 3rd goal in for Canberra. Butt put a penalty into the back of the net to make it 3-2. This is where the score stayed.

After the game I was able to chat to players from both sides and catch up with friends from the Canberra side. All who were rather very cheeky to me in regards to my costume choice.

For those who say that the Brisbane team lack sportsmanship, after what I saw Saturday night I would beg to differ. The two teams went to dinner separately, I was lucky to be invited to the Brisbane team dinner and medal presentation (as these weren-t presented after the game). I walked in wearing normal clothes and after receiving cheeky remarks from Brisbane-s coaching staff settled into a very lovely dinner and night with the girls, watching as they gave speeches. It is sad we must say goodbye to Ellen Beaumont who announced her retirement. She will be missed.

Afterwards the Brisbane and Canberra girls went out together, having a great time.

The next morning I left Canberra at 6:45am AEDT and trained it to Sydney. After receiving a very generous gift I flew home from Sydney to the Gold Coast cutting around 13 hours off my trip. After a long train ride from Robina to Brisbane, Brisbane to Landsborough and a bus from Landsborough to Caloundra I arrived at around 7pm QLD time and promptly collapsed on my bed.

Some people think I-m crazy to of travelled long distances on trains and buses to get to games, but when you have no other way to get there and you wouldn-t miss games for the world then you do what you can. With a total of around 75 hours of travel to get to games I have enjoyed the 2011/12 season thoroughly and I thank everyone involved Players, Officials, Friends I-ve made, Fans, Media and especially Girls FC for making it an awesome season !!!!

I hope the 2012/13 season for one is extended to be much longer and I will be there for every minute of it!!!!!!!!!!!!