On Monday afternoon the Open Girls Bellingen High School football team took on Western Sydney team, Wyndham College, in Round of 16 in the NSW Combined High School competition. The girls were excited to have a home game but little did they know the Bellingen rain would return the day before the rescheduled match!
Keen to keep the game on, the forecast was routinely checked and with no heavy downpours it was decided the game would remain at Connell Park. However, it didn’t take long after the starting whistle for the rain to teem down and for the playing conditions to deteriorate. A heavy ball and sludgy ground made for a difficult game but it was clear from the starting minutes that Bellingen had the upper hand.
With many opportunities and strings of passes in attack by the two wingers, Ashley Sticker and Kelsey Williamson-Leslie, as well as striker Jordan Healy and midfielder Willow Neal, it looked as though it was only a matter of time until Bellingen scored the first goal … yet this was not to be. The girls reached half time disappointed and drenched with a nil all score line.
The second half was even more difficult on a slippery and soggy ground and it was harder for the girls to pass the ball around. However, it was not too long before a beautiful left-footed cross from Ashley Sticker and far post finish from Kelsey Williamson-Leslie saw the first goal and the crowd cheer in elation! The back line was now desperate to keep the ball out of their defending half although the conditions made it difficult to predict the play. Unfortunately Wyndham College were able to take advantage of this and a speedy run from their striker from half way and untouchable finish resulted in an evening of the score. Full time 1-1.
The game would now continue into sudden death extra time. The girls were freezing and keen to win no matter how long it took. Goalkeeper Gaia Malcisi even had to change her wet gloves in order to have some grip on the ball! Yet again the play was dominated by Bellingen, which in time earned the girls a corner kick. Unable to take a proper kick on the slippery ground, Willow Neal and Emily Ruming acted quickly to organise a set play. A short pass to Emily allowed her the time to have a fabulous distance shot screaming well over the keeper into the back of the net! Bellingen did it! The girls ran together in celebration and full time was called.
Bellingen Opens Girls football team have made it to the top 8 in the state! Coach Liz Hoy said that the girls deserved to win and it was a great team effort. She did mention standouts for the match were Hannah Watt and Mia Craggs who were solid in defence and Willow Neal and Sophie Boyd working tirelessly in the midfield. She wanted to thank the girls who sat on the bench in case of injuries as well as all of the supporters who came to watch.
The location of the next game has not been confirmed but may entail a trip to Sydney. Well done girls!