CENTRAL Coast Mariners Westfield W-League team kick-started its 2009 campaign in tremendous style with a hard fought 3-1 defeat of glamour side Sydney FC.
Played in slippery conditions, and up against a long list of Matildas and International players, the Mariners fought tooth and nail to frustrate the Sky Blues with a strong defensive showing the platform for the win.
Michelle Heyman was the match-winner for the Mariners scoring twice, along with a Kelly Golebiowski strike, to secure the points and kick-start the Central Coast's assault on W-League season 2 in the best possible fashion.
"This is an amazing feeling at the moment," said Heyman after the match. "All the girls have been training really hard, and our hard work has shown today."
Central Coast hit the lead on 12 minutes courtesy of a fine looping Heyman header. The Former Sydney FC striker rose highest to send Jenna Spackman's floated cross from the right over the outstretched Deiter for the lead.
"It is great to score against Sydney FC in such stadium, and along with all the girl, I am really looking forward to the next match," Heyman added.
Sydney FC conjured up their best chances of the opening half in the space of 2 minutes midway through the period following former Mariners player Kyah Simon's clever pass releasing Sarah Walsh down the right-flank. Walsh's wicked cross was punched to safety by American import Jillian Loyden, denying Simon a clear headed chance at the back post.
Kyah Simon then went close moments later as Leena Kharmis was the provider with some fine play down the right-flank. Simon's final effort from the edge of the penalty-area was driven low and hard, though failed to force Loyden into a save.
Mariners' central midfielder Renee Rollason showed all her class and composure as she cleverly beat her marker 40 metres out from goal with a fine turn to her left. Rollason took an extra touch before unleashing a ferocious long-range effort; denied only by a great Deiter save.
Up by the single goal, the visiting Mariners were forced to scramble in defence, and goalkeeper Loyden denied W-League season one top goalscorer Leena Khamis an almost certain goal with a fine goal line save from the striker's powerful header.
Despite conceding the majority of possession to the home side, Jenna Kingsley nearly doubled the lead following some uncharacteristic defending by Garriock. The Mariners' attacking midfielder picked the ball up on the byline, and with only the goalkeeper to beat from an acute angle, thumped her effort against the up-right.
Sydney FC squandered a golden opportunity to draw level prior to the break with Leena Khamis sky-rocketing Sarah Walsh's low-driven cross from the right, with only the goalkeeper to beat, into the grand-stand.
Central Coast Mariners' defensive resolve was undone only two minutes into the second-half as Matilda Sarah Walsh beat the off-side trap before unleashing a venomous diagonal effort into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal.
Despite the setback, and the constant barrage of forward forays by the home side, the Mariners did keep Sydney FC on their toes with some swift counter-attacking moves; initiated largely via the feet of Fletcher and Teresa Polias in the centre of midfield, though clear-cut chances were few and far between.
Central Coast import Kendall Fletcher turned her attentions to defence on the hour as some casual Mariners' defending allowed Sydney FC a look-in on goal. Fletcher's last-ditch tackle took the ball off Sydney FC striker Leena Khamis' foot, keeping the Mariners on level terms.
In arguably Sydney FC's best moment of the match, the Mariners regained the lead with a fine solo effort by Heyman. The Mariners' number 11 picked up the ball on the right-flank and displayed her strength, skill and speed as she beat her marker and drove the ball into the bottom left-hand corner with a fine diagonal effort.
Deep into injury-time, Kelly Golebiowski latched onto Heyman's through ball out of midfield and outpaced her marker before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home into an empty net to seal a memorable three-points.
Mariners' coach Stephen Roche was ecstatic after the final whistle.
"To pick up three-points against a team filled with Matildas and International players at all levels is just fantastic,' he said.
"We knew it would be tough, and we did have to defend... I think we did this really well today with our defensive line led by Caitlin (Cooper) and Rachael (Doyle) along with our goalkeeper (Jillian Loyden) who added extra confidence to our defence.
"In all, this is the best possible start we could have and I am very pleased with all the players' efforts," Roche said.
Sydney FC Women: 1. Nikola DEITER (gk); 2. Teigen ALLEN, 3. Danielle BROGAN, 5. Lisa GILBERT (14. Nicola BOLGER 69'), 6. Steve UZUNLAR, 7. Heather GARRIOCK (C), 8. Julie RYDAHL, 9. Sarah WALSH, 11. Catherine PAASKE, 15. Kyah SIMON (13. Catherine CANNULLI 81'), 19. Keena KHAMIS (10. Kylie LEDBROOK 65')
Unused Subs 20. Carla MONFORTE (gk)
Yellow Cards None
Red Cards None
Goals WALSH 47'
Central Coast Mariners Women: 1. Jillian LOYDEN (gk); 2. Caitlin Cooper (C), 4. Rachael DOYLE, 7. Teresa POLIAS (13. Trudy CAMILLERI 82'), 8. Kelly GOLEBIOWSKI, 9. Renee ROLLASON, 10. Kendall FLETCHER, 11. Michelle HEYMAN, 12. Samantha SPACKMAN, 16. Jenna KINGSLEY (5. Jessica SEAMAN 66'), 19. Lydia VANDENBERGH (3. Lyndsay GLOHE 72')
Unused Subs 20. Rachel COOPER (gk)
Yellow Cards FLETCHER 45'+1'
Red Cards None
Goals HEYMAN 12', 63', GOLEBIOWSKI 90'+1'
Referee Peta MCCALLUM