Image courtesy Capital Football


Match of the Round: Canberra United Academy v Monaro Panthers

Saturday was reserved for the ACT Federation Cup Final double-header; congratulations go to Belconnen United for attaining their sixth consecutive Federation Cup trophy. Woden-Weston are also to be congratulated for reaching their first senior cup final as a club, however they went down 6-0 to the title-holders.

There were no NPLW games scheduled this weekend, but on Sunday afternoon at Hawker Oval, Canberra United Academy and Monaro Panthers played a Round 13 fixture in advance. Academy’s Bella Barac scored a hat-trick and Hayley Taylor-Young a double as their team scored seven goals. Bright passages of play for Monaro in the second half saw them net three of their own, however the 7-3 scoreline was reflective of Academy’s dominant overall performance.

There were changes to the attacking options in both squads for this game. Prolific Academy goalscorer Sacha Grove was unavailable, giving Charli Mitchell a start, while former Canberra Olympic captain Natina Skinner was on the match card for the first time in an NPLW game for the Panthers.

The game started well for the Academy, with an early warning shot from Taylor-Young in the 5th minute foreshadowing a goal two minutes later by Mia McGovern. Isabell Mulhall played a ball centrally from the right touchline to Barac, who teed up Mia McGovern from outside the penalty area. Her fine shot just eluded Monaro keeper Liana Hall’s low dive to the right to make it 1-0 to the Academy.

Panthers captain Alicia Meuronen is known for scoring from distance, but was unsuccessful from two such attempts following the Academy goal. In the 17th minute Academy’s Mulhall played a through ball for Taylor-Young from within her half. Taylor-Young used the bounce to gently lob the ball over the advancing keeper, rounding her to complete the goal and take the Academy to a 2-0 lead.

The duel between Monaro defender Thembi Compton and Taylor-Young was a highlight of the game, with Taylor-Young using her speed down the left to good effect, while Compton employed her height and positional sense to try to counteract the forward.

Both keepers were called into action within a three minute period at the 26 minute mark, with each custodian advancing to block a one-on-one chance. Hall was able to foil Mitchell after she evaded the Panthers offside trap, while Alexandra Hinson in the Academy goal managed to block Alyssa Bozinovska’s effort.

Monaro’s Liz Edwards received a yellow card in the 34th minute after bringing down Academy’s Annie Grove.

Most of the play was occurring in the Monaro half, and a minute later Academy scored their third of the afternoon. Barac made a run to the back post at a McGovern free kick, making no mistake with a top right corner finish.

Five minutes later Kaitlin Joy got the Panthers onto the scoreboard with a long range free kick from just inside the Academy half, the ball slipping through Hall’s fingers and into the net to make it 3-1.

Mulhall, Taylor-Young, and Mitchell all had chances for Academy in the last three minutes of the half, but the sides took the break with Academy holding a two goal margin over Monaro.

Natina Skinner took the field for the Panthers when play resumed, replacing Bozinovska, while for Academy Caitlin Skillicorn replaced Demi Nikias.

Academy’s Barac was rewarded with a second goal in the 48th minute as she continued to make her mark on the game. Weaving her way around the edge of a congested penalty area, Barac played a one-two with Skillicorn, receiving the ball on the right edge of the six yard box, and finishing with a shot to the bottom left corner to give Academy a 4-1 advantage.

A minute later Monaro’s Alicia Meuronen reduced the margin to two goals by scoring a trademark long range goal from a set-piece, catching Davey off guard and unable to reach  a ball that hit the top left corner of the net.

Academy’s defensive centre midfielder Molly Lawless was coming into the game more as the game wore on. She made a good run forward with the ball in the 54th minute to combine with Barac and her forwards, and shot unsuccessfully for goal in the 56th minute.

A five minute period around the hour mark saw the best passages of play in the game for the Panthers. Passing interchanges between Chris Yip-Au and Skinner after midfield build-up, and then a great forward run by Joy, showed the crowd the skills in the Panthers side, but on both occasions the movements either broke down or weren’t finished with authority.

Taylor-Young halted the Panthers’ momentum in the 63rd minute with fierce determination in the penalty box, busting two tackle attempts and firing into the bottom left corner of the net to make it 5-2. Barac continued the trend three minutes later, first hitting the upright from range, then scoring seconds later after doing a 180 degree turn with the ball at her feet to round the defending Sofia Furlanetto.

The 75th minute saw more long range attempts on goal by Monaro’s Joy and Meuronen, with the first slipping through the keeper’s hands for a corner, and the second proving to be an awkward pickup on the bounce for Hall.

With ten minutes to go Taylor-Young cracked a shot onto Monaro’s crossbar and Mitchell followed up to score, however the forward was judged to be offside.

The Panthers picked up their third and final goal of the afternoon in the 85th minute to make it 6-3. It was substitute Cheyanne Girvan who found the back of the net, following up a Furlanetto shot on goal after some excellent build up play.

The last three minutes of the game however, were all Canberra United Academy. A through ball by Mulhall for Taylor-Young presented her with a one-on-one with Hall, who managed to block the shot. Taylor-Young then headed the ensuing corner over the bar.

A penalty appeal for Academy was given in the 92nd minute when Mitchell’s constant efforts at sprinting into the penalty box were rewarded, after she was pushed off the ball. Mitchell converted the penalty to make it 7-3. Another could have been scored by Academy in the dying moments of the game when a goal was pulled back for a free kick (with no advantage given) for handling the ball just outside the Monaro penalty area. McGovern’s free kick sailed over the bar in the final kick of the game.

The result sees Canberra United Academy climb to second place on the ladder having played an extra game compared to those around them.

Monaro coach Ian Worthington will no doubt be looking to get his team working to a better balance of goal scoring opportunities from open play to complement those from set pieces. His team showed in second half glimpses that they are certainly capable of this.


Final score:

Canberra United Academy 7 (McGovern 8′ Taylor-Young 17’ 63′ Barac 35′ 48′ 66′ Mitchell 90+1′)

Monaro Panthers 3 (Joy 39’ Meuronen 49′ Girvan 85′)



Canberra United Academy – Coach: Eddie Senatore

Isobel Davey, Stefi Lejins, Annie Grove, Jade Trewin, Demi Nikias, Molly Lawless, Mia McGovern, Bella Barac, Isabell Mulhall, Charli Mitchell, Hayley Taylor-Young (c), Alexandra Hinson, Meg Roden, Jenny Hill, Caitlin Skillicorn, Alyse Jensen

Yellow/Red cards: Nil

Monaro Panthers – Coach: Ian Worthington

Liana Hall, Charlotte Grandy, Alyssa Bozinovska, Thembi Compton, Kaitlin Joy, Sofia Furlanetto, Alicia Meuronen (c), Chris Yip-Au, Darby Whitely, Liz Edwards, Kelly Stirton, Gabby Markulin, Cheyanne Girvan, Lila Brewer, Natina Skinner

Yellow cards: Edwards 34′

Around The Grounds:

No other NPLW games were played this weekend.


Pos Team P W D L For Against GD Pts
1 Belconnen United FC 9 8 1 0 57 1 56 25
2 Canberra United Academy 10 6 1 3 37 13 24 19
3 Gungahlin United FC 8 6 0 2 26 12 14 18
4 Canberra FC 9 5 2 2 39 8 31 17
5 Woden-Weston FC 8 5 0 3 23 22 1 15
6 Tuggeranong United FC 9 3 0 6 9 40 -31 9
7 Monaro Panthers FC 10 2 0 8 18 42 -24 6
8 Canberra Olympic FC 8 2 0 6 7 41 -34 6
9 Wagga City Wanderers FC 9 1 0 8 10 44 -34 3