Today’s grand final saw group winners Eastcoast Eagles take on runners up, Ballarat FC. Eagles had won the first encounter between the sides but Ballarat produced a stunning display, and never went behind at any point, sealing a 6-3 victory and the inaugural trophy.
The match kicked off at a high intensity, both sides determined to get off to the best possible start. The first goal of the match came from Ballarat’s number nine Margot Robinne, who pulled off an impressive flick over Eastcoast’s defender, then despite finding herself in a one versus two situation, managing to find space and the back of the net.
Eastcoast came firing back with goal from Keea Parish, who has been outstanding this tournament. Parish was in the right place at the right time to slot home and tie the score at 1-1.
Ballarat came straight back, determined to retake the lead. They did exactly that through the Victorian side’s number four, Ili Jakab, who made a great turn round her marker and left the goalkeeper with no chance. Robinne added to her tally in the closing minutes of a half that lasted a full 45 minutes, doubling her side’s lead. The score remained 3-1 at the break, giving Ballarat the advantage.
Ballarat FC 3-1 Eastcoast Eagles.
Going into the second half Eagles came out stronger than the first. A shot from an acute angle from Shannon Day led the ball being scrambled into the goal under pressure from number eleven, Jessica Hayes.
It wasn’t long before Ballarat’s two goal lead was restored. A free kick was worked well with Ballarat number ten, Mylene Deschamps playing a disguised pass to Robinne. Whether Robinne’s next move was a shot or an inch perfect pass only she will know, but Breanna Coombes wasn’t hanging around to find out – diverting the ball into the net from beyond the back post.
The match raged from end to end and Eagles once again hit back. Sophi Jones spun past her marker shot first time into the back of the net. 4-3 and once again it was game on.
With under ten minutes to go, Eagles pushed into fifth man, eager to find that elusive equaliser. They found themselves up against a very disciplined Ballarat defence, who put every player behind the ball and made it almost impossible to break them down.
Inevitably, the goal on the counter attack came. Robinne dummied her way past two of Eagles’ defenders and placed the ball confidently into the back of the net for her hat-trick. Ballarat and
Robbine weren’t finished there, adding one more goal before the final whistle and the celebrations that ensued.
As the final whistle blew, Ballarat had executed their game plan perfectly. Eagles may have edged position and had more shots on goal, however the victory never looked in doubt for the Victorian side since they took the lead at 2-1.
An outstanding finish to the Escape Travel AFA Cup saw Ballarat crowned champions in the women’s side of the tournament. The win for Ballarat was done with the utmost class and skill, to take down an undefeated Eastcoast. The loss for Eastcoast was upsetting however once it has sunk in, they will look back on an excellent tournament.