Drysdale SC’s women and Shepparton South’s men take out inaugural Victorian Regional Challenge Cup
Shepparton South was crowned the inaugural Male champions, while home town team Drysdale SC took out the Women’s division of the inaugural Victorian Regional Challenge Cup at Stead Park in Geelong on Sunday.
In a scintillating display of top class and entertaining football, Drysdale SC defeated the Bendigo Association Select team 4-2 in the Women’s decider, despite coming into the Final the overwhelming underdogs after the Bendigo team had won all three of its group phase matches.
The Men’s Final was marred by gale force winds, meanwhile, but it didn’t prevent Shepparton South from overcoming the Morwell based Falcons 2000 3-0 in the championship decider.
Buoyed by the return of livewire captain Nicole Carter who had returned from an overseas holiday just a day earlier, Drysdale SC fired up the vocal local crowd with a second half hat trick by star striker Serena Clapp. Nonetheless, things didn’t exactly go Drysdale’s way early in the piece after the youngest player on the pitch, 14 year old Ellie Vlaeminck gave Bendigo the lead on six minutes.
Not to be outdone, Emma Blanch - the oldest player on the ground at 41 years of age – equalised for the home town side in the 21st minute. It was the veteran’s first ever goal for her side. In the second half, Paige Gordon gave Bendigo the lead within three minutes of the re-start from a magnificent, looping thunderbolt into a blustery wind from 30 metres out! Enter Serena Clapp, who had amassed 28 goals for Drysdale in the local league this year. In the space of 24 minutes, she had recorded a dazzling hat-trick to secure her team the inaugural Women’s Division title.
The Men’s Final between Shepparton South and Morwell’s Falcons 2000 kicked off soon afterwards, accompanied by gale force winds blowing directly down the Stead Park pitch. The difficult conditions wrecked havoc with both teams, ensuring the clash was marred both as a spectacle as well as a contest. With scores locked at 0-0 at the break, it was the Black and Whites from the Bendigo league who came out looking the more dangerous outfit in the second half.
Aided by the powerful wind at their backs, the Shepparton side took the lead just six minutes into the second period after Sean Grant converted from the penalty spot. Joel Aitken doubled Shepparton South’s lead just seven minutes later before Toby Ferguson put the icing on the cake in the 54th minute to give his side an unassailable 3-0 lead.
It stayed that way until the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of proceedings and draw the curtain on an immensely successful first ever regional club champions’ tournament, which is set to become a highlight on the Victorian regional football calendar.
Drysdale SC v Leongatha 1-1
Traralgon City v Bendigo 0-2
Drysdale SC v Bendigo 1-4
Traralgon City v Leongatha 3-0
Bendigo v Leongatha 6-0
Drysdale SC v Traralgon City 2-0
FINAL: Drysdale SC v Bendigo 4-2
Barwon SC v Falcons 2000 1-2
Shepparton South v Warrnambool Wolves 7-0
Barwon SC v Warrnambool Wolves 6-0
Falcons 2000 v Shepparton South 0-0
Warrnambool Wolves v Falcons 2000 1-3
Barwon SC v Shepparton South 1-3
FINAL: Falcons 2000 v Shepparton South 0-3