Imagine your favourite restaurant. How you stroll in, almost like the place is your second home. There’s no need to scan the menu, because you know the things you like on it without even a glance. The meal in front of you rarely disappoints. This is how Clarence Zebras strolled into KGV on Saturday and won the Statewide Cup against modern-day rivals Olympia.
The match itself was decided in the first two minutes. Olympia’s season strong shielding midfield came undone, with Caitlin Roberts caught on the ball. Danielle Kannegiesser’s intervention found Zoe Nichols, whose tidy return ball found Kannegiesser free in a large pocket of space in front of goal. There’s one thing you can count on in big matches, Kannegiesser will score those opportunities every single time.
Momentum was in the corner of Clarence Zebras. The team’s playmakers saw plenty of the ball, ideas were flowing and most importantly the work off the ball to keep play camped inside Olympia’s defensive half was full of confidence. The game plan was executed.
Unfamiliar territory gifted no favours to the Women’s Super League Champions. Olympia were denied the opportunity to find the rhythm that’s often so readily at their fingertips. Hunger was there, however when the Warrior’s most attacking threat in Bonnie Davies spent more time dropping deep in search for the ball, the writing was on the wall.
Sheer determination by Innocent Michael almost steered the ship back on course for the Warriors. But stretching runs from the middle of the park to produce a solo goal was always a massive task against the Zebra’s switched on defensive unit.
Two second half goals wrapped up the proceedings. The earlier arrived in a nightmare scenario for Olympia, with Maddie Black turning the ball into her own net following a clinical Kannegiesser cross. Jenna Farrow would deny Nichols with style three times over, but the third save would land at the feet of an oncoming Louisa Marmion who finished into the empty net.
HOW IT WAS WON
There’s little doubt across the season Olympia have demonstrated a game winning ability in 1v1 situations. With 30+ goals to her name, these scenarios have been Davies bread and butter this season. On the rare occasions that it wasn’t working, a host of other players readily stepped up to the mark, all thriving in 1v1s.
The game changer on the final match day of 2020 was that Clarence Zebras never allowed 1v1s to happen. Post-match coach Chris Hey went straight to the point, “I thought we broke them down very well because we hunted in packs”.
A pack mentality was clear to see. Not only did Clarence read the game well in the early instances to stop the through balls, but no player was left isolated when defending throughout the 90 minutes. The intensity and togetherness was set from the front line pair of Nichols and Allie Berry, and flowed through the rest of the team.
The writing was on the wall when it became apparent the Zebras weren’t going to stray from hunting in a pack. Olymipa were left on the back foot, without any plan B at their disposal and a double trophy haul out of grasp.
The overall 2020 battle between the giants in Tasmanian women’s soccer may have been won by Olympia. But Clarence Zebras have spoiled the party winning the final match, with goals to spare and a trophy to show for it.
Perhaps the best way to wrap this up is with words from the winning coach:
“We seem to know how to win. We haven’t lost a Cup final in the four years I’ve been coach. So they prepare themselves mentally very, very well. We did that again today.”