The girls travelled to Bathurst to compete in the Proctor Park Challenge last weekend. All teams performed admirably with the under-12s GASP Yellow squad going on to win the tournament.
U12 GSAP Yellow
In their first foray into a competitive tournament environment, the under-12 GSAP team had no expectations – simply wanting to test themselves against some of the best teams in NSW.
After a long trip to Bathurst, their first match on Saturday morning was against the highly fancied APIA Leichardt. It was fair to say that the team started off sluggishly and, after a few errors, quickly found themselves down 4-1 and unable to recover. This left the team facing an early exit from the tournament – needing to win both of their next group games.
Fortunately, the team regrouped for their next game against Griffith FC and after taking an early lead managed to grind out a 1-0 win. The final group game of the day, kicking off late in the evening, saw the team face off against Adamstown-Rosebud FC. The Flame, showing greater signs of confidence and cohesion, won 2-0 in a convincing fashion. This left the team to play a qualifying final against Lindfield FC at 7:30 am on Sunday morning.
Having made the qualifying final and ending in competitive form on Saturday, the team started strongly against Lindfield and never looked like losing, eventually winning 4-0 and progressing to the quarter-finals against the formidable and unbeaten Blacktown Spartans.
The game against the Blacktown Spartans can only be described as attrition warfare – with each team attempting to wear the other down and neither having any real chances to find the breakthrough. The game ended 0-0 even after an extra five minutes of golden goal time meaning penalties were to be required to separate the sides. It was at this point that the team’s secret weapon, Emma Shallcross, showed great courage and determination by stepping up as goalkeeper. After a tense few minutes and some clinical shooting from the Flame, they went on to win 2-0 through penalties.
Having already exceeded any expectations, the team took the field against Gungahlin FC (the largest football club in the ACT) who had just defeated Sutherland Shire FC. The game against Gungahlin was closely contested, with the Flame conceding an early goal from a penalty meaning they went into the break 1-0 down at half-time. An inspired halftime team talk and tactical improvisation galvanised the side to a spectacular turn-around securing a 2-1 victory.
Starting at 7:30 am in the morning and coming up to their 7th game of the tournament, the storybook journey wouldn’t have been complete without playing APIA Leichardt in the grand final. APIA were rightly confident, having played one less game than the Flame and currently on an unbeaten run throughout the tournament.
The grand final started evenly with both teams pressing each other from the outset, with a fierce contest flowing back and forth the length of the field.
With strong defensive displays provided by both sides, it was inevitable that the grand final would be decided in a penalty shootout.
Once again, Emma Shallcross stepped up to make two brilliant saves – with the final result going to the Flame 3-2 on penalties giving the Flame’s first GSAP title win at the Proctor Park Challenge.
Congratulations again to the girls – who showed maturity and determination beyond their years to bring the winners’ trophy home.
U12 GSAP Blue
The under-12 GSAP Blue squad was made up of six players from the under-10 squad and 6 players from the under-11 squad.
The aim was to experience a tournament competition involving lots of games and hard work.
It was clear from early on that playing against under-12 teams was going to be hard. However, full credit should go to the players and the encouraging parents that helped to ensure the squad kept their head up and battled to win the ball back as quickly as they could.
There were a lot of positive signs in the second game against St George. The girls went into the halftime break 0-3 down but showed great resilience and concentration to keep St George to a 0-0 scoreline until the final few minutes of the game.
It was a difficult encounter against a team from Newcastle in the third game who had a lot of bigger players and played very well moving the ball around with precision and purpose.
In the final game, it was again challenging with their opponents having big and fast players. The girls didn’t give up though and were rewarded with two goals to go home with.
The under-14s squad went from strength to strength this weekend and were unlucky not to make it further than they did.
Their first game was hotly contested against our familiar opponents Hills FC, losing 1-0 conceding with 20 seconds left on the clock.
The girls regrouped later in the day to beat Western NSW 3-1 in a convincing display of solid defensive shape and counter-attacking principles.
On Sunday, bright and early, the side played a competitive Lindfield squad on a slippery pitch.
Great determination from the girls as they came away with a 2-0 win after two late goals in the second half.
The final game of the group was against Wagga City Wanderers, the winner would top the group.
An early goal for the Flame and some more solid defensive performances gave them the win and top spot in the group.
A group of nervous girls prepared for the quarter-final against St George.
An exciting end-to-end game ended scoreless after full time and extra time, leading to a penalty shootout.
Sophie Bailey stepping up to be the hero, saving two penalty kicks to send Flame into a semi-final against Albury Wodonga.
The girls were buzzing from their penalty kicks win, as they played with courage and confidence, but went down 1-0.
An exceptional weekend for the girls who bonded as friends and showed they are learning and improving every game. An exciting season is sure to come.
The new-look under-15’s side enjoyed their second trip to Bathurst for the annual Proctor Park Challenge.
The girls came out firing, playing against last season’s GCL champions, Hills FA.
Alivia Beath struck before the break and the side controlled the game from then on and managed the pace of the opposition front line to take a relatively comfortable 1-0 win.
The girls struggled to translate their first performance into the second game as they went down 2-0 to a hard-working Mid Coast side.
Day two saw the Flame bounce back with a very dominant 2-1 victory over Lindfield with Carly Johnson and Alyssa Nicovska scoring terrific strikes from distance.
The last group game saw the side face top-of-the-group Wagga.
Both sides had their fair share of the play and it was a long-range strike that slithered through a sea of legs and found the bottom corner to give Wagga the three points.
An extremely motivated South Coast Flame qualified for the quarter-finals and found themselves playing against Wagga once more.
Tactical adjustments were made and as a result, the Flame had much more of the play and found themselves controlling the game.
Although, it was a case of Déjà vu as Wagga scored a fantastic freekick and knocked the Flame girls out 1-0.
The players can be extremely proud of the way they conducted themselves in implementing the Flame philosophy.
All games were played at a high level and the level of progression and togetherness this side displayed over the weekend shows that there is no reason why they shouldn’t be quietly confident about what the group can achieve over the coming season.
Expectations and ambitions were high for this squad as they approached the weekend with one goal in mind, winning the tournament.
A strong performance in the first game against Bankstown only lacked one thing – goals!
Flame would be made to pay for their missed chances coming out with only a 0-0 draw.
Against Wagga City, the girls struggled to get into the game and after conceding early.
A reset in mindset after this game changed their weekend.
The third game of the day against Adamstown Rosebud displayed the grit and resilience that this team is known for.
After being down 1-0 at half time, the girls fought back to win the game 2-1, including a spectacular goal from Bethany Horton from inside her own half.
The girls entered day two, absolutely buzzing and ready for whatever challenge they faced. They started by showing their class over Sutherland Shire FA, winning comfortably 2-0. A quarter-final and Lindfield were waiting.
By this time, Flame had found their groove, putting four past Lindfield and moving on to the semi-final and a rematch against Bankstown. The game was played at a high intensity and was a physically enduring game.
Lauren Brooks converted a penalty in the first half which gave the girls a well-deserved win and a grand final birth against Northbridge Mariners.
The final was a tactical battle from both teams; Northbridge with their free-flowing attacking football and Flame with a tight, compact defensive structure, and, rapid counter-attack.
After full time and extra time, the teams could not be split and penalties were needed. Unfortunately, Northbridge came out on top in the end, but the girls could be so proud of their efforts.
The side may have fallen just short in our aspirations for the trophies this year, however, the unity that the club experienced at this tournament is worth more than any trophy will be.