Calder United has continued its relentless collection of silverware, winning an unprecedented fifth straight NIKE F.C. Cup with a 3-0 win over South Melbourne in Sunday’s final.
Mark Torcaso’s side came into the clash as favourites and rose to that billing, controlling the game early on despite South Melbourne having a big chance to take the lead five minutes in.
Calder responded to that scare and found the net minutes later. South Melbourne sat off Alexis Rossi as she carried the ball out of the back and lifted a ball over the defence.
Fresh from becoming Western United’s first Liberty A-League Women player, Alana Cerne was on the spot to get on the end of it and sweep a delicate finish past the onrushing South Melbourne goalkeeper.
Calder kept the heat on in search of a quickfire second, with Stacey Papadopoulos flashing one wide and South’s goalkeeper making a tremendous double save to keep out Cori Cain and Raquel Deralas, the latter from point-blank range.
The NPLW leaders didn’t have to wait too much longer for the second, though, and it came through a familiar source.
After scoring a double in last year’s final, captain Aleksandra Sinclair was on the spot to flick Cerne’s volleyed shot into the net with her head, wrong-footing the goalkeeper and wheeling away in celebration.
Just as it looked like Calder would run away with it and put up a commanding score line, South were able inch themselves into the game by forcing turnovers in midfield, but Calder’s resolute defence ensured Alyssa Dall’Oste’s goal was never troubled.
Half-time gave Calder the chance to reset and it wasn’t long before the lead became three when Sinclair was felled inside the box, allowing Melissa Taranto to coolly put the ball away from 12 yards.
Sinclair might have had a double late on and Cerne tried her luck from distance on a couple of occasions as Calder managed the remainder of the contest until the final whistle confirmed its fifth consecutive NIKE F.C. Cup title.
A goal and a superb game in midfield earned Taranto the Theresa Deas Medal for best on ground on the day.
Remarkably, Calder United didn’t concede a single goal across the entire Cup campaign, with Rossi and Natasha Dakic marshalling the defence in front of Dall’Oste.
The trophy will provide the perfect motivation for Calder to take into its final four games in the NPLW season, with the Premiership potentially three wins away.