Contributed by: Tobietta Rhyman
The Thursday night late game at Blacktown saw the impressive US Freedom women's side take on the very young Papua New Guinean Flame.
Clearly out to prove something after their defeat at the hands of the Northern Lights, the PNG Flame came out fighting today. Though young and slender, they showed no fear in the face of much bigger girls and played very tough football. The USA Freedom came back hard as well, smashing through the Flame’s midfield, but the PNG girls banded together, and the Freedom backed off with just two behinds to show for their efforts.
PNG were determined to get on the scoreboard early, and immediately countered, showing off their undeniable skill in moving the ball quickly up through the midfield, but were unable to make it through the Freedom’s tall back line. After a tough fight in midfield, the Americans finally managed to get a goal, and despite their efforts, the PNG girls looking threatening a few times, the Freedom defence held strong.
The Freedom came out after the break looking to secure a few comfort-zone goals and for a while the fight was concentrated in the Flame’s back 50. Then a high tackle on Siobahn McHale gave the Freedom a chance right in front of goal. But determined to rectify her mistake, the PNG Flame’s Joyce Mettakaisava bravely dived in front of the shot, but her efforts were deemed stepping over the mark, and McHale got another shot which this time was slotted home.
On their counter attack, the Flame were awarded 25m which finally got them through the Freedom midfield, but again they were denied by the tall back line, and with a series of impressive marks, the ball was straight back to the Flame’s goal mouth. Freedom forward Jen Cravens took a mark in the goal square, but seconds later was collected by a PNG back liner. Heroically, she dragged herself back to her feet to slot the ball through the posts for another goal. The ball then came straight back from the bounce, and a kick into the danger zone sailed over everyone’s heads and bounced straight through for number four, right before the siren.
After the half time break the Freedom came out hard and a few minutes into the third quarter, a PNG girl needed stretchering off after a collision. Play quickly resumed and the USA got their goal. From then on the Flame tightened up and the contest was locked in an epic midfield battle. After successfully holding the Freedom back, the Flame rallied and after a chain of short kicks and marks, made it past the towering Freedom full backs for their first goal, right on the siren.
Any hope the Flame had for rescuing a respectable score went out the window as soon as Lindsay Kastanek put away Freedom goal number six. Despite their efforts in midfield, the slender Flame forwards were unable to break down the Freedom back line a second time, though the younger girls definitely matched them in every other way. Then after a dangerous USA counter, the Flame were awarded 50m, then after a high tackle, another 25m, taking them right up to the Freedom’s defensive 50m line. The kick in almost made it all the way, but was marked by the Freedom full back, right on the line.
But with the Flames pressing in, the Americans were unable to clear the ball. An impressive Freedom mark finally allowed them out of their own 50, but the Flames came straight back. Refusing to back down, the Freedom took it up another notch, resulting in another Flame girl going down, and the tired PNG girls finally started to slow down. Neither were the USA girls in any shape to drive the knife home, the score remaining until the final siren.
Full time score: USA 6.5 (35) defeated PNG 1.0 (6)
Goal Kickers: McHale, Kastanek, Estrada 2, Cravens 2
Best Players: Rasocha, Riehl, Casillas, Kraft, Geoghegan, Cravens
Goal Kickers: Lavai
Best Players: Lavai, Nalong, Tatsie, Kotapu, Avia, Mettakaisava
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