Fleurieu Peninsula female footballers make SAWFL history

REGION – Some of the Fleurieu’s female footballers have tasted premiership success in their first season of playing the game they love.

Strathalbyn’s Britt Jackson, Sheena McMullen, and Melanie Bell, Goolwa’s Meg Chaplin, and Victor Harbor’s Dani Brown took to the field in the South Australian Women’s Football League (SAWFL) division two grand final against Mount Lofty, while Strathalbyn’s Kaitlin Purcell was named an emergency.

The grand final was held at ALDI Arena (Thebarton Oval) on Sunday, September 18 in front of a large crowd.

This game would be the fifth time the two Hills teams have met – the Barkeroos and the Devils played each other twice during the season, and in a curtain-raiser for a Sturt Legends v Punters game at Unley Oval, before the second round of finals to qualify for the grand final – and Mount Lofty had won every game.

Mount Lofty got off to a flying start, kicking two quick goals, while three Barkeroos players sustained injuries before the 15-minute mark of the quarter.

The Devils kept the Barkeroos goalless, even though they were kicking with the wind, and Mount Lofty was up at the first break, 2-0 (12) to 0-1 (1).

Mount Barker lifted its intensity in the second quarter and scored two goals to tighten the gap, but still the Devils led at half time, 2-5 (17) to 2-1 (13). 

The third quarter is commonly known as the premiership quarter, and when the Barkeroos kicked another two goals and three points with the breeze and kept Mount Lofty scoreless to lead at three-quarter-time, it seemed the old saying would ring true. 

Defensive pressure rose during the last quarter, and opportunities were missed by both teams to seal the game.

Mount Lofty added one goal and one point to its total compared to Mount Barker’s extra three points, and the Barkeroos held on to win against the Devils for the first time to take home the premiership cup, 3-6 (24) to 4-7 (31).

Although the umpires’ best on ground award was given to captain Tara Robertson, the team’s coach Patrick Sim named Jackson as the best player, with Chaplin coming in at fifth-best.

The game was an incredible feat in itself, as it was both teams’ first season in the SAWFL. Mount Barker and Mount Lofty were the only teams out of 10 in division two not Adelaide-based.

Sim said the game was tight and was about controlling the stoppages.

“Our backs were outstanding in holding a very potent MLFC forward line,” Sim said.

“In the end, it was our ability to maintain structure, and our midfield and runners, that put a winning score on the board.”

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