Slice of Cheese

Women’s Summer Cup Wrap: Taroona Put Competition on Notice

It may have only been a Summer Cup match, but there was a distinct mood about Warrior Park on Sunday as Taroona and Olympia clashed that suggested this was not your average pre-season hit out. The perception among the big crowd braving the pouring rain and certainly among the competing players was that this was a game that meant something more. It was the Champions of 2016, the top dogs of the Women’s game on their home turf taking on the new challengers on the scene, a side that has been hyped up but hadn’t had the chance to prove anything yet. The Warriors waltzed their way to the title in domineering fashion last year, could Taroona really have closed such a sizable gap over the summer? Or was it all just talk?

Well, as it turns out, the hype was justified! Taroona very much looked the real deal and in a 90 minute statement of intent they demonstrated that they will be a force to be reckoned with in 2017. From the opening moments of the game there was some obvious heat in the contest, players were flying in for challenges, playing with emotion and you could see the desire written on their faces. The game was played at a furious pace, as refreshingly, both teams played in a positive attacking manner, looking to take the game on. It lent itself to an open contest that flowed from end to end and it was as entertaining a game as you will see. Whilst drawing too many conclusions from 90 minutes of pre-season football would be foolish, you just had to walk away from this game thinking that these sides must be two of the favourites for this years Women’s Super League title, such was the standard of play.

Adelyn Ayton got the scoring started when she let fly with a thunderous strike from range. She was given too much time and space outside the box and duly punished them with a superb goal; an effort she would repeat later in the half, though perhaps not quite as spectacularly the second time around. Ayton was the dominant player on the pitch in the first half. In addition to her 2 goals, she created a number of chances with dangerous balls into the box and simply ran the show in midfield. It was no coincidence that the Warriors second half resurgence coincided with her departure from the pitch as they were able to wrest back some control in the midfield.

Despite being outplayed in the first half, Olympia kept themselves in the match as Lucy Johnson did what Lucy Johnson does by blasting one home before Georgia Crawford cut the margin to 3-2 just before half time. Whilst they didn’t look as organised as Taroona, the individual talent remains and they still have the players who can turn a game in an instant. In the second half it was Bonnie Davies looked the major threat, her pace was causing massive issues for the Taroona defence, so it was no surprise when she handed the Warrior a lifeline by bursting in behind and cutting the gap to 4-3 after Lisa Bremner had extended Taroona’s lead just moments into the half. The Warriors began to look more of a threat with Davies speed perhaps highlighting a lack of pace at the back for Taroona, but the defence led by Hannah Manuela was able to hold out before Lily Hulton put the result beyond doubt with a late goal to wrap up a 5-3 win. The reaction of the Taroona players at the final whistle demonstrated what they felt was at stake, they had proved a point in this one and put the Warriors on notice. The 2016 Champions can undoubtedly still go up a gear from this performance, they are a brilliant side after all and this result might be the timely wake up call they need.