Calder United goes back-to-back in NPLW Victoria Grand Final

Calder United Western United Academy

Calder United clinched yet another piece of silverware on Sunday, with a 2-0 win over Bulleen Lions giving the club a second straight NPLW Victoria Championship.

The Grand Final was tense and competitive, but goals at either end of each half secured the victory and Calder’s third Championship in total since 2016.

Both sides came out of the blocks in search of the ascendancy but Calder applied most of the early pressure, with Raquel Deralas firing the first shot on target before the opening goal came on 16 minutes.

Inaugural Western United Liberty A-League Women signing Alana Cerne has made a habit of scoring in big games and added to her NIKE F.C. Cup Final goal with thumping effort into the top left corner from a wide position on the right.

There was no let up as Calder continued to dominate forward territory, but a lull in the game around the half hour mark allowed Bulleen to regain some rhythm, and they nearly found an equaliser when a ball flashed across the six-yard box, but nobody was there to tap it home.

Calder continued to see out the remainder of the half without any overwhelmingly clear sights of goal, as Alyssa Dall’Oste was required to make a strong save from a free-kick on the stroke of the half-time whistle.

Bulleen began the second period the stronger of the two sides but Calder quickly got going again and somehow didn’t extend the lead by the hour mark.

Defender Alexis Rossi picked up the ball on the corner of the box on the right-hand side after a corner and thundered a strike into the crossbar before Melissa Taranto’s follow-up was saved.

Taranto herself then struck the woodwork when she was picked out wonderfully by Cerne but could only divert her volley onto the inside of the left-hand upright, allowing Bulleen to clear.

Bulleen remained a threat for as long as the game remained at 1-0 and came closest to equalising in the 70th minute when Lia Privitelli flicked a corner towards goal from point-blank range, but the strike hit Rossi and gave Dall’Oste the chance to collapse on the ball and alleviate the danger.

That would turn out to be a pivotal moment as Calder iced the game five minutes later. Stacey Papadopoulos was at her evasive best on the left wing and pulled the ball across goal for Taranto to stab home, giving her a well-deserved goal and Calder a two-goal buffer.

As Bulleen pushed on with nothing else to lose, Taranto, Aleksandra Sinclair and substitute Ava Groba had looks at goal on the counter-attack but the damage was done, as the final whistle sounded on another incredible season for Calder United.

Mark Torcaso and his players have achieved an unprecedented treble in consecutive seasons, with the NIKE F.C. Cup and the NPLW Victoria Premiership already in the trophy cabinet.

It was only fitting that the team kept another clean sheet in the Grand Final and that many of the key contributors are set to line up for Western United in the A-League Women, with Cerne and Taranto the goal scorers and right-back Julia Sardo winning the Player of the Match medal.

Photos by Jack Dilks