Slice of Cheese

2018 NPL TAS TEAM OF THE YEAR

GK- NIKO GIANTSOPOULOS (LAUNCESTON CITY)

The Canadian backed up the preseason hype around his return with another brilliant season between the sticks. His highlights reel from this season is eye-popping and his run of three consecutive weeks of saving a penalty is stunning stuff. Compiled top-five finishes in both the Players MVP and Walter Pless Media Awards to highlight just how highly his year was regarded.

RB- EDDIE BIDWELL (DEVONPORT)

The way the side lined up was designed to maximise Bidwell’s room to operate in down the wing, and Bidwell was a machine down the right flank for Devonport this season. He charged up and down to tremendous effect and gave his side a reliable two-way player who provided both an outlet in attack and a diligent defender. His willingness to scrap and put a strong challenge was a big part of the reason the Strikers only conceded the 18 goals for the entire season.

CB- LUCAS HILL (OLYMPIA)

Eventually settled down at centre back for the second half of the year but his incredible versatility saw him used all over the pitch in the earlier rounds. This was simply because wherever he was deployed, the impact that he had was sizable. Powerful, skilful and a towering presence, Hill’s class was clear for all to see and a top-five finish in the Player’s MVP award shows how highly he is rated among his peers.

CB- GUILLERMO LAZCANO (DEVONPORT)

An outstanding defender, the Spaniard was the latest in a growing line of impressive international recruits the Strikers have unearthed. He filled the hole in the middle of the Strikers defence and helped to anchor the league’s stingiest defence. His reading of the game, physicality and athleticism made him a nightmare for attackers to try escape from. Underpolled in the Mitsubishi Medal but managed top ten finishes in the Player’s MVP and fourth in the Walter Pless Media Award.

LB- CONNOR SCHMIDT (SOUTH HOBART)

Had a successful stint in central midfield but for the majority of the season he was the competitions most reliable left sided defender. Schmidt had already established himself in the league, but this was the season that he broke out into one of the very best players playing in it. He struck the balance between attack and defence and offered his side plenty wherever he was situated on the pitch.

CM- BEAU BLIZZARD (DEVONPORT)

The Strikers midfield general brought some real bite and muscle to the engine room with his no nonsense style. But the toughness was complemented by plenty of skill, offering his side a dangerous option in attack to go with his defensive strengths. That blend of grunt and silk was a vital part of the Strikers success. The unheralded Blizzard showed he has so many strings to his bow in 2018 and is one of the most complete midfielders in the league.

CM- JORDAN MULLER (HOBART ZEBRAS)

Muller was asked to do plenty in the Hobart Zebras system this year and he repaid the faith shown in him, producing his best season to date in the NPL. A metronome in midfield, Muller’s intelligence and passing range make him one of the best playmakers in the league. He was doing the work of 2 players in midfield, allowing his side an extra attacker and thriving on the added responsibility.

RW- TYLER FISCHER (LAUNCESTON CITY)

So much of City’s first half charge to the top of the table was due to the output of Tyler Fischer and his blistering pace up top, chasing long balls and burning off defenders. Injuries saw him fade late in the season, but he was absolute dynamite for the majority of the year, scoring 19 goals and registering 10 assists. Fischer finished with top 3 finishes in all 3 major awards voted on as well as in the Golden Boot.

LW- MICHAEL HOLDEN (DEVONPORT)

The Player’s MVP winner, Holden produced a simply scintillating season. He has clearly gotten his confidence back and he is fulfilling the potential he showed that originally landed him at Melbourne Victory. Led the league in assists with 18 and the majority of his 10 goals were from outside the box, scoring multiple goal of the year contenders. An absolute force and his showings in the National games underlined just what a prodigious talent he is.

ST- MATHEW SANDERS (HOBART ZEBRAS)

If not for Mann’s remarkable season, Sanders may well have gotten more recognition for his prolific season in front of goal. The experienced Zebras striker chalked up 26 goals and registered 6 assists in a damaging season that saw him routinely finishing off the Zebras moves. The intelligence of his movement around the penalty area combined with his lethal left foot saw him finish in the top 10 of the Player’s MVP and Walter Pless Media Award.

ST- BRAYDEN MANN (DEVONPORT)

It was a simply incredible season for the Strikers Captain, as he moved back into a more advanced role and promptly delivered his best season to date. Scored 35 goals to break his own single-season scoring record in the league and set a record for most votes in a single season by polling 40 Mitsubishi Medal votes. Was the unanimous Walter Pless Media Award winner and was simply untouchable this year.

BENCH

ADAM GORRIE (SOUTH HOBART)

Gorrie had sterling year down the right with his trademark overlapping runs. The drive and outlet Gorrie offers make him such a dangerous commodity and he was once again a major creative force. Produced 10 goal assists and remains one of the most consistent performers in the NPL.

HARRY THANNHAUSER (NORTHERN RANGERS)

One of the most consistent midfielders in the league for a number of years now, Thannhauser was quality for Rangers this year and polled 13 votes in the Mitsubishi Medal. His box to box game, intelligence on the ball and sharp passing range made him a standout performer amongst midfielders in the league.

DANIEL SYSON (LAUNCESTON CITY)

Out of favour at Devonport, Syson made the move to Launceston City where he reminded everyone of his quality. Played a more advanced midfield role than we are accustomed to seeing and whilst he still provided some steel, he showcased a more attacking side to his game. His set piece taking was among the best in the league and helped him chalk up 12 assists to go with 4 goals.

JOEL STONE (DEVONPORT)

It was a slow start for Stone but he caught fire down the stretch and was one of the Strikers most important players in the back half of the year. A sixth place finish in the Mitsubishi medal and top 10 finises in both the Player’s MVP and Walter Pless Media Award are a testament to how damaging Stone was, with his silk on the ball, bag of tricks and eye for the spectacular.

JACK TURNER (SOUTH HOBART)

Continues to deliver the goods for his side and after South Hobart managed to sign him back from Olympia, their form picked up, just as it did upon his arrival last year. Nine goals, thirteen assists and a much needed physical presence up top, would South have started slowly if they had him from the outset?

COACH- CHRIS GALLO (DEVONPORT)

The title winning coach gets the nod and after the season his side produced it simply had to be him. The way he kept his side focused down the stretch and didn’t allow the FFA Cup to derail their title bid was impressive and the improvement his young players have shown is a testament to his development skills. A demanding and tough task master, Gallo has driven this playing group and instilled a winning culture that shone through in their forays to the National stage.

Images from Solstice Photography