WSL Season 2018 Review

My first year covering the Tassie Women’s Super League has been unreal. In the space of a season, I’ve gone from being an unknown weirdo with a laptop, trying to find a spot to watch the game, to being embraced by everyone around the league, having the privilege of covering so many games and getting to know the players, clubs and supporters. Honestly, there’s no better place to be on a winters weekend than rugged up at a footy ground, getting to write about a match over at Slice of Cheese (Slice of Cheese being a soccer blog linked in with Football Federation Tasmania, not a blog about different types of cheeses as I initially thought last season).

With the season coming to an end, I thought I would use my newly acquired wealth of knowledge from the season and turn it into a type of quasi-season review for each club. Here I’ve got you fully covered, going through each teams season, what’s been going on in the stands and my favourite match for each side. As I’m no wizard, and  can’t bring an end to fixture clashes, nor mastered being in two places at once, the matches selected are purely from the ones I was able to get to. There were other insane games and results throughout the season that aren’t included here. So if I’ve missed a killer game, I was likely covering a different, just as killer game elsewhere (or it was up North).

 

Ulverstone – 1st Place 63 points

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Their Season

Unstoppable all season. If dropping points is a destination, Ulverstone got lost on the way, threw away the maps and decided to go to the other side of town, where the goals, points and medals reside. They had the triple threat this season. Able to get in behind the defence with Jazmin Gorrie’s pace, with the double threat of Lucy and Georgia Foote in midfield, as they terrorised midfields with their creativity and tag teamed the goal scoring duties too. All this makes for a good side. Additionally reinforcements in the back with Emily Nellis and golden glove winner Georgia Anderson, meant they weren’t exactly going to be leaking goals either. As the side set the pace early, after about round 7, I didn’t wind up watching too many Ulvie games by this point unfortunately (I was required to catch other, slightly less predictable, games). However, the bits I did see were flaming brilliant, smart football. Well deserved winners of the competition.

The Stands

Unfortunately I can’t comment on the stands for Ulverstone. It’s a long trip from Hobart and petrol prices have been hiked to levels preventing uni students from random road trips. However I’ve been told to start a rumour about Adelyn Ayton from Taroona playing for Ulverstone next season. Whilst the source seemed keen purely stir the pot, it would be a dream of a midfield having both Foote sisters and Ayton. The dream being a nightmare for opponents and an absolute delight for fans and neutrals. Unlikely to happen, but this dreamer is more than happy to put forward this wild rumour on the basis of the mere hopefulness of it all.

The Match

Round 1 against Clarence. I know they had much more impressive games during the season. Additionally they missed a LOT of chances. But the first glimpse I got of them here, I was impressed. Showing their intent to get in behind and potential for long range crackers, they were in form from the go. After this game I remember telling a couple people Ulverstone are the team to watch. No one believed me. I may have got laughed at. But guess who backed a winning horse? 

http://inx.a20.myftpupload.com/ulverstone-down-clarence/

 

Taroona – 2nd Place 35 points

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Their Season

At one point, Taroona was legit my pick for the most frustrating team of the season. Midseason the side looked intent on taking shots from anywhere on the pitch. Look I support anyone who backs themselves to take the shot. However, when you’ve got a side with a goal poacher like Lily Hulton and clever midfielders at their disposal, such as Ayton and Zoe Horgan, to not show some patience to build up a decent opportunity is like having the batter for a cake but refusing to put it into the oven. So close, still palatable, but with some patience it’ll turn into something infinitely better. By the end they did come good though. In what looked like a shift in formation, with Horgan sitting deeper and players bombing down the flanks, Taroona demonstrated the patience I was crying out for midseason, banged out some good results and snuck into second place by the end of the season.

The Stands

If you catch a Taroona match, you’ve gotta try to sit with the fans there. At their home games, I was often perched on the wrong side of the hill for this. The wrong way to really experience their games. However, away games is when I got to experience the Taroona fans at their best. Their love for the match is clear, and support for their team is loud (loud is good in my book). On the cold matches, there was still the (often injured) player doing their game footage camera work, so naturally there is a sense of togetherness in being frozen to the core, but committed to covering the match. Extra brownie points for feeding me cake and a delicious lemon slice at one point in the season too. (Hint for next season anyone reading this, I’m totally open to bribes by cake)

The Match

An early match against Kingborough in round 3, where Ashlee Tolman just ripped up the pitch in an otherwise tense game, was special. However their catch up game against South was brilliant. They put away five, could have had a few more and finally I got to see a Taroona side who were patient in the midfield and didn’t overly rely on hopeful shots. 

http://www.sliceofcheese.net/five-star-pirates-sink-south/

 

Launceston City – 3rd Place 33 points

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Their Season

Starting the year with a bang and seemingly the only side capable of keeping pace with Ulverstone. City started to show signs of jittering right before some mid-season holidaying midfielders left for a month, resulting in the side losing pace. Despite clinging onto second place for the majority of the season, their mid-season slump and inability to find some luck during the back end of the season, meant they slide down to third by a mere two points. The side has a clever, clever midfield, which is a delight to watch. Whilst their hesitance to drop deep defensively saw them caught out against South both times the two met in Hobart, the experience of the side means they can show up for the 20 minutes of the game, put a few away and then sit back and relax for the rest of it.

The Stands

Much like Ulverstone, I just didn’t manage to make it to any games up north this season. As Launie is a bit closer than their northern neighbours, plus the promise of a visit to the Gorge, I’m very keen to make the trip next season. I’ve also got no rumours to spread for City. If anyone wants to make up a randomly wild rumour, with absolutely no real foundation, feel free to hit me up with something interesting. 

The Match

I doubt I will ever forget their game against Zebras in round 7. Not only was it the first game I’ve ever commentated, being thrown into the deep end as my co-commentator missed his lift from the east coast, so got there 10 minutes into the game. But City brought it. They beat the Zebras at their own game and were complete class the whole match. I’m pretty certain they went out with the intention to play keepies off the Zebras, and that Beth Bygrave had some other side hustle with the trekkers she pulled off during the match. Complete quality.

http://inx.a20.myftpupload.com/city-rout-zebras-holders-on-the-ropes/    [So, I didn’t write this report up, it’s all Andrew Coolings work. Still totally worth reliving]

 

Hobart Zebras – 4th Place 31 points

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Their Season

Coming off an unbeaten season in 2017, the Zebras were the team every other was looking to beat. Unfortunately for the stripy side, 2018 didn’t get fair with the same consistency as the previous season. They continued to impress with their smart midfield, the acquisition of Lucy Johnson was a brilliant move and Kayla Mason slayed in the back, her pace and determination to win the ball deserves more accolades (I may be biased towards defenders, but legit Zebras would have leaked many more goals this season without her being their rock in defence). However, much like a number of teams this season, the Zebras really lacked a striker confident and composed enough to get the ball into the back of the net week in, week out. Additionally, their turnover of players seemed to cause a headache, losing some quality talent to competitors, and ultimately damaged their point tally as they lost points despite grinding out important wins on the day due to player number issues.

The Stands

Personally, I love the stand at KGV. Having played last season with the Zebras reserves and two games this season, I had the upper hand for Zebras games compared to other stands. Instead of starting from scratch, I often knew people there, or wound up in the top corner with the videoing/live streaming crew (shout out to Asher and Vlasta both legends on the camera/techy live streaming stuff, plus Paul and Andrew’s commentary making live blogging a dream). One of my favourite things was seeing the Zebras coach in the stands. Chris Hey has the best cushions (of which I’m already on a mission to find similar ones for next season), and hearing his comments on the match loud and clear was a bonus too.

The Match

Two games stick out to me, both for similar reasons and during the hard slogging of mid-season. The fight shown to manage a one all draw against Taroona, round 12, when their backs were to the wall, seemed to be an important accomplishment for the side during that time. However the performance against South has to be one of the games of the season. Nine goals between the sides, Zebras going behind a number of times and some complete magic for the game winning goal. I still have no idea how Zebras managed to win this game, South left everything on the field that day.

http://inx.a20.myftpupload.com/johnson-heroics-seal-win-in-amazing-game/

 

South Hobart – 5th Place 31 points

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Their Season

How many catchup games can one side have during the season thanks to the rain? South say three, with the result being two games a week for the last three weeks of the season. This was their first season in the top competition, and they didn’t look out of their depth. Some handy pick ups at the start of the season across the field, including Phoebe Djakic, Margot Johnston and the Moutsatsos sisters, meant from the start of the season they meant business and were here to stay. Take out their travelling woes up north, and the side have had an impressively solid, opening season. Their pace on the flanks, a quick transition and the composure of Djakic in front of goal has been key this season for the young side. In defence, there have been hiccups, at times looking one of the most solid in the league, while at other times leaking goals like a tap that won’t quite turn off. With where they’ve found themselves in the table suggests this season isn’t merely beginners luck and this is a side aiming to vie for some silverware in seasons to come.

The Stands

Good hot chips. Their canteen is close enough to get a bite to eat at half time, but not so close so as to taunt you the entire first half before chip o’clock. This is all greatly appreciated. Legit though, I’ve had some quality conversations with people at Darcy street, whether that’s with the home or away supporters, or even those who are doing some watchful, sneaky scouting for other sides. The ground being in the heart of South Hobart is rad too.

The Match

They’ve had some thrilling matches, but my favourites have to go to the two times South played City at home. The second, their last time, being against a full strength City midfield (unlike the prior), where South still caused mayhem with their pace and ability to get in behind the defence. Coming off the back of a midweek demolishing at the hands of Taroona, to come out not even 3 days later and put City to bed is something special. Also probably demonstrates evening games were a disadvantage for this side (my speculation is that 8pm starts means the second half is past their bedtime, it’s past mine at least).

http://www.sliceofcheese.net/djakic-sinks-city/

 

Kingborough – 6th Place 17 points

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Their Season

A roller coaster of a season is probably the best way to describe it. Being the only side in the competition to have beat Ulverstone at some point (during the Cup but it still counts) to losing 2-0 twice to bottom place University, creates one hell of a season on all accounts. A side brimming with potential and a youth program reaping benefits. When they showed up, they really showed up. However, a mixture of inexperience and missing an inform Laura Davis during the back end of the season, really hampered their chances of closing the gap with fifth spot and very nearly could have dragged them back into the relegation battle below them. From a technical level, in how they press and look to move the ball, they would rank best in the league. From my point of view, as a lover of clever tactics, I loved watching the Lions work off the ball all season. With a bit more consistency in their displays, they had the potential to nick a few more points than what they grabbed this season.

The Stands

The Kingborough mums on the admin/managerial side are legit legends. With the ever persistent comment before matches of “be nice to us”, their commitment to the club and love for the game is clear. Whenever the Lions were playing, I always knew grabbing a pic of the team sheet was simple because of you guys. So thank you for all you do to keep the side ticking and making my job easier. Much like Taroona, if you’ve got the opportunity to sit in the midst of these supporters, just do it. Although, I must admit, being able to sit up in the media section when it’s bucketing down rain at Lightwood park, is also a decent and much warmer place to be. 

The Match

Evening games are always special and often produce the spectacular. Their evening game against the Zebras in round 11 didn’t disappoint. The Lions finally capitalised on their high pressing game against quality opposition, and simply outran the Zebras by the end of it. Last minute goal madness, with the final goal going to the Lions game them the final roar for the match. The absolute delight of the players, coaches and fans at the end of this match showed how important this win was to them.

http://inx.a20.myftpupload.com/late-penalty-seals-lions-win/

 

Clarence – 7th Place 16 points

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Their Season

Mayhem at the start. The sides starting goalkeeper, Amelia Vanderniet, received an injury on halftime in round 1, resulting in missing some of the early games. This left a Clarence side vulnerable in the back for a couple weeks and without anything spectacular up front to compensate. Again a side sorely missing a super quality forward. Reinforcements midseason with Canadian import Melissa Harrison and Mady O’Brien coming on board from the Zebras, gave a whiplash effect with how their fortunes changed from the opening round of fixtures to their form mid season. A strong midseason, gave them the run and steam to hang on until the very end, getting the points needed to avoid relegation. By season’s end, their defence was their strength. The ability to hold onto a clean sheet, is a skill this side showed more than capable of for the back end of the season. Once Harrison left in the final spurt of fixtures, goals were again hard to come by. But their work and hustle in defence created problems for the sides they came up against during this spell.

The Stands

Can never resist a bag of dollar lollies whilst at Wentworth park. The ground is open to the elements, making it flaming brilliant in the sun. But when the winds pick up and rain drifts over, it’s a battle with the elements. With the stands being at the lowest level in the competition, and at one end of the field, a bit of squinting is required at times. Always quality people to talk with in the stands, and the heart beat of the club is found in their club room, where the lolly bags and some other good chats lie.

The Match

Look, the obvious match to select ought to be their one nil win over Uni in round 18. However, whilst a very important three points, I think the games following that victory were the essential ones and demonstrated what this side will bring next season, being a better form of football than their victory over Uni. So my pick is the goalless draw against Kingborough. Ultimately I’ve got a feeling the point didn’t add to their tally in the end (again player number issues). But the way the side ground out the result, a match they probably shoulda lost but coulda won (you know the ones I’m talking about, the Italians love them), it quality and I think what helped them hold their nerve to ensure no leapfrogging at the bottom of the ladder come the final match of the season.

http://www.sliceofcheese.net/lions-and-reds-in-stalemate/

 

University – 8th Place 11 points

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Their Season

Started out with such hope, and a handful of good results. But within the name is also their curse, as a reliance on Uni students for any club means the inevitable, a university winter break and a high number of player unavailabilities that come with it. The flow on effect of this meant the back end of the season was scrapping for your life stuff. A shift in team formation slowly kicked things back off in an attempt for a last ditch, resurrection effort. Unfortunately it was too little too late, with four points from the final three games not being enough to lift the side off the bottom. At full strength, this is a side who are well structured defensively, have one of the best defensive mids in the competition in Mich Tadros and can manage to keep most sides at bay. However, lacking an out and out, 20 goals a season forward, especially with the shift of their early season forward Miki George to goalkeeper, meant they could limit the damage of goals against, but couldn’t buy a goal when needed. The real kicker of their season being the Clarence six point match, where the opportunities were created but that natural forward was missing and Uni lost out.

The Stands

Up at Olinda Grove, if you’re inside, at the bar by the window, it has to be one of the comfiest, warmest spots in the comp. However if you’re late to the match, need a good view to blog and someone is in the prime, inside spot, meaning you’ve got to resort to sitting outside, it has to be one of the coldest places going. The spread and hospo after the game is spot on too. In other words, I’m always invited up there with the sides after the match to get a feed. It was in the stands of one of the Uni games where I was asked if I’d consider coaching and to come along to some of their sessions. It’s the end of the season and I’m still out there. So good bunch really.

The Match

I’ve been lucky this season, no one has really given me stick for much, if any, of my writing. At least not to my face. However for one match I used the words “parking the bus”, and the Uni guys haven’t let me forget it. I’ve tried to explain, I love it and give me a side who parks the bus and is exciting on the break any day of the week. But still I’ve been left copping the consequences of my word choices. I’ve received near enough official confirmation they indeed intended to park the bus against the Zebras. For this reason, this is my match pick for them. Yes I would like to say their win against Kingborough in round 20 is the match, with it being the only one I saw them win and a thriller too. But I’m picking what must now be dubbed as “The Parking The Bus” match for personal reasons.

http://inx.a20.myftpupload.com/new-signings-guide-zebras-past-university/

 


Photos of teams all from the legends at Solstice.Digital & Photography

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