Calder United picked up the first trophy of the NPLW Victoria season, defeating Bulleen Lions 3-2 in a thrilling FV Women’s Community Shield on Friday night.
The season curtain-raiser gave Calder the chance to win its fifth Community Shield in a row and remain the holder of all four major honours in Victorian women’s football.
The new-look Calder side was led by Nathan Maiorana, making the step up from assistant coach for the first time to take charge of Calder’s next generation.
A number of new signings and promoted young players featured for the team with a number of star players from last season’s success signed for Western United in the Liberty A-League Women.
Onlookers might have been lured into the thought that Calder’s fresh faces would take time to gel together when Alana Burn gave Bulleen the lead after eight minutes following a scramble in the box from a set piece.
Calder bounced back though and equalised before the 20 minute mark with a fine team move, beginning with Lara El Hayek in goal and ending with Lucy Richards finishing on the run for a debut goal.
Star signing Keiwa Heida came on as a half-time substitute and made an instant impact, putting Calder in front within 20 minutes of her arrival.
Much of the goal was down to Ava Groba’s pressing, with the Calder captain dispossessing Bulleen’s keeper before finding Heida in the box to lob her finish into the back of the net.
Having overturned a losing margin, Maiorana’s side began to increase the pressure and enjoyed a period of dominance with Elle Talevski controlling the midfield.
Groba continued to be a menace up front and put Bulleen under pressure again, getting in behind the defence and winning a penalty in the 83rd minute which Alexis Mitchell duly dispatched.
While Calder saw out most of the remaining minutes comfortably, a giveaway at the back invited Simone Vass to score Bulleen’s second, giving them hope late on.
Calder ultimately held on to claim victory, picking up the first title of the 2023 season ahead of the NPLW Victoria season opener against Box Hill United on Friday.