Calder United goes in search of a sixth straight NIKE F.C. Cup title on Sunday, locking horns with long-time competitor FC Bulleen Lions at The Home of the Matildas.
NIKE F.C. Cup Final
Sunday, 13 August
FC Bulleen Lions vs Calder United
Kick-off: 5:00pm AEST
The Home of the Matildas, Bundoora
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on NPL.tv
Road to the Final
Calder United navigated a tricky path to reach a sixth decider in a row, coming through a number of NPLW Victoria rivals in the earlier rounds.
The journey began way back in April with a 2-1 win over Southern United. Calder had to come from 1-0 down to claim the win as Bella Sewards and Larissa Walsh got the side over the line.
Calder then overcame State League 1 side Clifton Hill in the Round of 16 – Walsh again getting herself on the scoresheet – to book a quarter-final tie against Heidelberg United.
Heidelberg twice pegged Calder back but a ruthless end to the game saw Calder run out 5-2 winners. Walsh, Sewards and Alexis Mitchell each brought their tournament tallies to two goals, while Natasha Dakic and Keiwa Hieda also found the back of the net.
Hieda and Mitchell then struck again as Calder put in a trademark display to defeat South Melbourne 2-0 in the semi-final and earn the chance to compete for yet another trophy.
Bulleen navigated an early scare when falling behind against Bundoora United in Round 4 before breezing past NPLW sides Boroondara-Carey Eagles and Box Hill United.
That set up a semi-final against Victorian Premier League Women’s side Casey Comets, and Bulleen made no mistakes with a convincing 5-0 win to punch their ticket for the final.
Calder vs Bulleen history
Calder and Bulleen have contested a host of intense matches over the years, coming together as the two most successful clubs in the NPLW era.
The two sides have met three times in the NIKE F.C. Cup in the past, with Calder winning on each of the three occasions.
The last meeting came in a tense semi-final in 2022, with Melissa Taranto’s scintillating 80th-minute strike giving Calder a 1-0 victory.
Calder also beat Bulleen in the quarter-finals in 2019 and won a then-second straight cup title in 2017, downing Bulleen 3-1 in the final.
The two powerhouses have also locked horns a number of times in NPLW Finals. Calder earned bragging rights in the 2022 and 2019 Grand Finals, exacting revenge after Bulleen’s semi-final win in 2018.
Both regular season matches in NPLW have ended in draws this season, with those two meetings and the history of battles between the two clubs building to another pivotal contest on Sunday.
Players to Watch
This match will feature a slew of Liberty A-League Women talent on both ends of the pitch with a number of high-profile players set to light up the stage.
Alana Cerne and Natasha Dakic have both returned to Calder United and been key factors behind the team’s resurgence.
Coming into this final, Calder has lost just one of its last 10 matches in all competitions and is on a run of five consecutive clean sheets.
Keiwa Hieda has been on fire for Calder in recent weeks, scoring seven times in her last five outings across NPLW and NIKE F.C. Cup action.
The Japanese winger has found no issues with taking the leap up from VPLW – where she dominated with Preston Lions last season – into the topflight with Calder.
With quality at the back and up front, Calder will be bringing excitement to the fans in attendance on Sunday on the way to fighting for another piece of silverware.