Eagles swoop into semis
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
A WELL-TAKEN free kick by Jess Barrett has seen the under-16s girls from the Boambee Eagles progress through to the semi-finals of the statewide Champion of Champions football competition.
Barrett was called up after fellow forward Kylie McDonald was brought down just outside the 18-yard box midway through the second half and she duly beat all defenders to find the corner.
The 1-0 victory over the highly rated Enfield team from the Canterbury Association has left the local girls stunned at how far they have progressed during the past month.
"At the end of the game the girls were excited when they realised they'd reached the semis," Eagles coach Karen McKillop said.
"It wasn't until I said that they had made it to the last four in the state that the girls clicked just how well they had done."
The coach couldn't have been happier with the way the team applied themselves to the task and was unsure about which end of the field she was most pleased with.
"The girls at the back did a great job to keep a clean sheet with brilliant defence and really good teamwork," she argued for the defensive end of the park. "Up front, we could've kicked more goals as we had more shots at goal than just the free kick and a couple of them hit the post and ricocheted away."
Player of the match was awarded to midfielder Casey Gardiner whose return after missing the previous match was welcome for such a high-stakes affair.
It was a close call though as the award could easily have been given to Sam Mackay playing as a defensive sweeper, goalkeeper Leah Griffiths or Jessica Healey, who created many opportunities to score throughout the match.
The girls now face another bus trip down to Sydney this weekend for their semi-final clash with the Carlingford Redbacks at Liverpool.
The Eagles have been asked to do it the hard way with travel but the coach sees some advantages in being given the tough task.
"They just love the bus trip," McKillop joked.
"It's just a great way of bonding for them and it's better than all of them going down in different cars.
"All the teams we've played in this competition have had byes at some stage while we haven't had the break and I think it's given our girls an advantage."