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Women's 2006 Championship

Published August 25 2008 by Renee Tuckerman in the Bendigo Advertiser

AFTER the heartbreak of finishing runners-up for the past two years, the girls of Epsom’s senior women’s soccer team made a pact. There was no way they were going to be the bridesmaids of the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League again in 2008.

“At the start of this year, we said everyone had to be at training, and that every game, we had to go out and win,’’ captain Riley Lyons said of their united stance. “We all really wanted it because the past few years we’ve been so close. “We decided that this year was our year.’’


Epsom’s determination and dedication finally paid off when a nil-all draw with arch-rival Eaglehawk in the second-last round of the season gave them an unassailable lead at the top of the ladder and assured them of the championship. It went a long way towards erasing the disappointment of finishing just one game away from glory in each of the past two years.


The talented Scorpions squad lost only one of its 18 matches in 2008, and ended the season three games clear of the Borough. It was the first time Epsom had won the women’s title since joining the BASL competition in 1990, and a far cry from the early days when 10-0 thrashings by dominant sides were not unheard of. This year, though, they were the ones dishing out the bloodbaths, which included a 17-0 whitewash of Castlemaine and a couple of five-goal victories.


The attacking players found the net a total of 54 times for the season, including several sensational long goals from free kicks by striker Danielle Kelly, who was at times under enormous pressure to score to ensure a win. Emma Wolters was the team’s leading goal scorer on 13. At the other end of the ground, keeper Gaye Stephenson and the rest of Epsom’s backline were water-tight, conceding only nine goals for the entire year. Experienced players such as Lyons, Kelly, Wolters and Carly Symes led the way, and young guns Holly Credlin, Marni Grabasch, Bridget Chamberlain, Abbey Stanley and Paige Gordon showed maturity beyond their years.


“Our younger players really stepped up and became a part of the team,’’ Lyons said. “It has been great to see all the older girls, who have played for a long time, and then all the younger girls stepping up and becoming leaders as well.’’


Coach Nathan Jenkins, a former junior with Epsom, who now plays in the senior men’s side, said he was enormously proud of his charges. "The difference this year was the application of the girls - they showed a little bit more focus during games,’’ Jenkins said. “In previous years, they have dropped games they shouldn’t have - games we would have marked down as easier matches - but this year they were switched on for every match. “Even when they were down at half time, they fought back in the second half and really applied themselves and stuck to the team plans that we had in place.’’


For skipper Lyons, 23, who began playing soccer as a seven-year-old, the championship win was the realisation of a long-held dream. “The past few years, we have been working towards this, but it was very frustrating because we had been so close,’’ she said. “To finally have a year like we did, we are just so stoked.“ I have played for 17 years and this is my first championship - it has been a long time coming.’’


The win was even more impressive given the Scorpions were virtually homeless for the year - their former home ground at Howard Street was being redeveloped into a shopping centre and their site at the new Epsom-Huntly Recreation Reserve was delayed. As a result, the club had to use several different training venues and play their “home’’ matches at various other pitches.


Lyons said the issue did have an impact on the team, with changing venues causing occasional confusion for team members and fans. “A lot of old players used to come and watch us play on a Sunday morning,’’ she explained. “But because we were all over the shop, no one really knew where we were, so we didn’t really have that huge support that we usually would.’’


Over coming weeks, the team will be in action in BASL’s annual end-of-season Knockout Cup, and is aiming to “do the double’’ and make it a clean sweep of titles. Lyons said the Epsom team had even bigger plans for the future. “We aim to build on what we have done this year and and have an even better season next year, if that’s possible.’’

Womens 2008.jpg

Women's 2008 Knock-Out Cup Winners

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