SOUTHERN United will lay claim to having the best under-14 squad in Victoria if it wins next weekend’s grand final and records an historic second successive double.
Last year the side coached by former Matilda and FFV Hall of Famer Deb Nichols and former Langwarrin, South Melbourne and Casey Comets keeper Emma Bracken won the under-13 NPLW championship and Grand Final.
That cemented their status as the premier outfit in Victoria’s elite underage competition.
This season the squad clinched the under-14 title in August and on Saturday defeated Victorian powerhouse South Melbourne 3-2 at Monterey Reserve in the under-14 semis to reach the 2018 grand final.
Southern’s date with destiny arrives at 10am next Saturday at ABD Stadium in Broadmeadows against Calder United who defeated Bulleen 4-3 in last weekend’s other semi.
For Calder it’s a shot at redemption having gone down 2-0 to Southern in last year’s grand final with goals from Taylah Hennekam and Candy Kilderry, who remain important cogs in Southern’s machine.
Not only do the Southern girls have a chance to write themselves into the record books but they also are tasked with maintaining the club’s record of winning a Grand Final in every year of its existence having won the under-15 premiership in 2016 in the inaugural year of the NPLW competition.
But Southern had to use a get-out-of-jail card last Saturday after facing a setback in the 5th minute when Ivana Demaria broke quickly and was brought down inside the area.
Demaria converted from the resultant penalty to make it 1-0.
Southern equalised in the 20th minute from a long-range Alex Jones free kick which sailed over the head of South Melbourne keeper Anastacia Samaras and it was 1-1 at the interval.
South Melbourne hit the front in the 46th minute through an Alessandra Davis own goal but Rhys McKenna capitalised on poor defending three minutes later to make it 2-2 from close range.
Hennekam’s long-range strike six minutes from time settled the issue but what a battle this was.
Nichols is acutely aware that Southern will need to perform at a much higher level if it is to win next weekend.
“Calder’s beaten us twice this season and we won the other game so it’s got to be a very up week for us if we’re going to go back-to-back,” said Nichols.
“We’ve spoken about how they will probably watch a replay of last year’s grand final to drive home the point that they don’t want to feel that way again.
“We’ll only train twice this week but we’ll work on being tighter at the back because we’re going to have to be.”
Meanwhile Southern technical director Harry Chalkitis is conducting a review of the club’s onfield structure and plans to submit his findings and recommendations to the committee next week.
A number of coaching positions need to be filled for next season with John Meads stepping down from his highly successful stint as under-12s coach to become more involved in the club’s Skill Acquisition Program.
Former Skye United senior women’s reserve coach Ernie Cerda has been linked with Southern as has Washington Castillo who coached Skye’s under-16 boys this season.
In NPL2 news Langwarrin expects to select a senior assistant to Scott Miller this week.
Expressions of interest closed last Friday and it’s believed that five candidates applied.
Miller and technical director Stephen Fisher will vet the applicants and the successful candidate will become involved in selecting an under-20s coach, a process expected to be finalised next week.
The under-20s job was vacated by Kevin “Squizzy” Taylor a few weeks back and has attracted seven applicants for a post Miller views as a second assistant’s role.
It’s believed that Langwarrin has spoken to former Melbourne Victory midfielder Callum Goulding.
He walked out on Langy partway through last season and joined NPL rival Box Hill United but there’s a strong rumour that the club is considering recruiting him for a second time in less than a year.
Langy held its players’ player of the year and its annual presentation nights last weekend.
Senior players’ player of the year was goalkeeper Robbie Acs and Johnny Kuol was runner-up while Alex Whyte won the under-20s equivalent with Keegan Guy runner-up.
Andy McLean’s outstanding season was recognised when he won the club’s best and fairest award with Kuol runner-up.
The under-20s best and fairest was Cedric Benza with Whyte and Travis Ernsdoerfer joint runners-up.
Sean Skelly won the club person of the year award.
The big news in State 1 South-East is Mornington’s capture of striker Amir Osmancevic from NPL outfit Northcote.
Ironically the 23-year-old will line up next season against recently promoted Doveton, the club which gave him his senior debut before he spent a year in the Balkans with Sloga Kraljevo and NK Zagreb then returned to Australia and joined Peninsula Strikers in 2015.
He switched to Dandenong Thunder for the 2016 season and has since played for Dandenong City, Moreland Zebras and Pascoe Vale.
He joined Northcote midway through the 2018 season.
In State 3 South-East news Skye’s United’s players’ player of the year was Daniel Walsh with Daniel Attard runner-up.
Frank Dimu was player’s player of the year in the reserves and Marcus Anastasiou runner-up.
In State 4 South news Mitchell Ball will apply for the vacant senior coaching role at Baxter.
Roy Kilner quit the post at season’s end and will not be returning.
“I’m quite happy to throw my hat in the ring but if a more experienced candidate came along then I’m quite prepared to work alongside him and learn,” Ball said.
He might get his wish as former Peninsula Strikers and Brandon Park head coach George Hughes is understood to be on Baxter’s radar.
Former Langy assistant Ronnie Whitton had been linked with the Baxter job but he is expected to join an NPL club this week after also being in the frame for coaching jobs at Berwick City and Hampton Park United.
A handful of experienced Baxter players are believed to be considering a move to Somerville which finished fourth in State 5 South after its promotion push stalled in the last match of the season.
Somerville announced last week that during October and November assistant coach Stan Packer will be in charge of a nine-week summer academy squad to prepare young players for senior and reserve soccer.
Those selected from the current squads are:
Ash Scholes, Jar McMinimee, Jordan Lunt, Sam Beadle, Latham Horvath, Kadison English, Kevin McCormick, Liam Morgan, Dom Dawe, Cameron Dingley, Caleb Anderson, Alex Colville, Jack McKenna, Tom Brewster, Devlin Lee, Eddie Hume, Callum Love, Lachie Flannigan, Sam Clark-Ash, Alex Clark-Ash, Zac Kearney, Josh Mulder, Joshua Davies.
The club also invites players aged 15–21 interested in joining the Eagles for 2019 to contact director of football Zach Peddersen via the club’s facebook page or email email@example.com
Next weekend’s game: SATURDAY 10am: Southern Utd v Calder Utd (U14 grand final, ABD Stadium).