Wallan have completed their remarkable turnaround in the NFNL senior women’s competition after defeating Darebin 2 by seven points in the NFNL Division 3 Grand Final at Preston City Oval.
The Magpies did a complete 180 from their bottom placed finish in 2022, losing just one match throughout this year’s campaign on their way 3.2 (20) to 2.1 (13) triumph, marking their first piece of silverware in the competition.
Gloria El-Armaly secured the best on ground medal after an excellent display. She was involved in the majority of Wallan’s surges forward, while also producing a crucial final quarter goal.
Teammates Kirsty Nunn, Shazi Cappello and Kia Montgomery all had valuable contributions on the match also, with Cappello kicking two impressive third term majors.
Tamara Olcorn led a resilient Falcons lineup with a consistent four quarter effort while Alisha Priestley also impressed in midfield.
The two teams had met three times prior to the decider, with Wallan winning all three meetings comfortably, while also restricting Darebin to just one goal across those three games. So, it was no surprise that the Magpies came into the match as overwhelming favourites.
But standing in their way was a persistent Darebin side who found themselves taking the long route to the Grand Final and were looking to become the first side to win a premiership in the women’s competition from lower than second spot.
Wallan won the toss and look to have the ascendency in the opening term, winning plenty of territory, but they didn’t find it easy to capitalise early, managing just one minor score through Kia Montgomery.
The Falcons struggled to break through towards their own attacking half and had to rely on their strong defensive efforts to only trail by one-point at the first break.
It was a similar story in the second quarter, as while Darebin were a little more promising going forward, with great efforts around the ground coming from the likes of Olcorn as well as Aife Larkin, the minor premiers would be the only side to register a score for the term, leading by two points at the main break as a result.
Wallan looked to be the more dominant side but were unable to find easy avenues to goal, while the Falcons, although scoreless, looked satisfied with their ability to restrict the Magpies to just those two points.
As the second half commenced, the goal drought was finally broken by Shazi Cappello who earned a free kick near the goal square and kicked truly for Wallan’s first goal of the day.
But the Falcons built up some momentum and soon replied to Wallan when Sez Robertson produced an incredible goal from the boundary for the goal of the day.
It reduced the deficit to two points again but this time that margin was short-lived, as Cappello found the big sticks for her second goal just a minute later to give the Magpies a comfier eight-point advantage heading into three quarter time.
The pressure was at an all-time high as the fourth term got underway, with both sides giving it their all in the contest.
El-Armaly was getting plenty of the footy again un the final quarter as she had done all game and was soon rewarded with a great goal that pushed the margin out to a game-high 14-point lead six minutes into the quarter.
But Darebin weren’t giving up just yet, as two minutes later, Tamara Olcorn slotted her side’s second goal with an effort just as impressive as Robertson’s in the previous term.
While the scoreline suggested that neither side was closer to winning than they were at the last change, time was going to be the Falcons’ biggest enemy as the game progressed.
One final push forward from Darebin gave them a chance to reduce the margin again, but Susan Cadman’s kick off the ground dribbled through for a behind, with the final siren sounded seconds later to confirm Wallan as premiers in 2023.