Calder United wins sixth straight NIKE F.C. Cup title

Calder United Western United NIKE FC Cup

Calder United added yet another trophy to its illustrious honours list on Sunday evening, defeating FC Bulleen Lions 2-0 to win the NIKE F.C. Cup crown.

The triumph is Calder’s sixth in a row, continuing an unprecedented run of success for the club in Victorian women’s football.

Five of Calder’s starting XI featured in Western United’s inaugural Liberty A-League Women squad last season, with a number of them playing key parts in the final result.

It was Bulleen that got off to the faster start and very nearly took an early lead. An errant back pass allowed Alana Jancevski in on goal but while her left-footed chip went over Alyssa Dall’Oste, the post came to Calder’s rescue as Dall’Oste was able to collect the rebound.

Keiwa Hieda came closest for Calder in the early goings when she wriggled away from danger in the box but Gabriella Garton was able to divert her effort onto the post, shaving sharply with her foot.

After an end-to-end opening period, Calder again needed its big-time defenders to step up and Julia Sardo made a brilliant block on the goal line to deny Tiffany Eliadis just before half-time, with Bulleen carrying a slight edge into the break.

After regrouping over the interval, Calder came out with a renewed energy helped in large part by the introduction of Lucy Richards off the bench.

Calder continued to wrestle momentum away from its opponents but Dall’Oste was called upon again on the hour mark with a sharp piece of goalkeeping to deny Paige Zois at close quarters before Annie Haffenden blocked Maja Markovski’s follow-up attempt.

From then on, Calder began to turn the screw and after Sardo flicked a header agonisingly wide with 15 minutes to play, it felt like a matter of time until Calder hit the front – and the breakthrough came in the 78th minute.

Hieda did brilliantly to win a loose ball and keep it in play as she darted past her defender before making her way into the box on the left-hand side.

Having helped turn the tide in Calder’s favour, Richards positioned herself superbly in the box to find space for Hieda’s cutback before applying a precise side-footed finish into the bottom right corner.

That gave Calder a lift to remain on top for the remainder of the contest and despite Zois striking the post from a direct free-kick, Raquel Deralas ensured there would be no late comeback.

Stepping forward to intercept a ball out of the back, Sardo combined with Hieda to get into the box before teeing up Deralas to slam it into an empty net and all but secure the title.

Hieda’s role in both goals and her tireless efforts both on and off the ball across the 90 minutes earned her the Teresa Deas Medal as the game’s most valuable player.

The Calder United family soaked in the celebrations of a sixth consecutive NIKE F.C. Cup title with the trophy staying at home in the West.

The win will give Nathan Maiorana, Helen Winterburn and their team the perfect lift heading into the final week of the NPLW Victoria season and the finals series where Calder will hope to add yet more silverware into the trophy cabinet.

Image credits: Jack Dilks/Football Victoria