Unavailability, goal of the year and relocated matches headlined a weekend where there was triumph under adversity.
The D Grade headed north to Munno Para for the unusual 3pm kick-off with 3 points on their mind. In a week where most of the club was in Melbourne those who remained needed to put in 200% to ensure a positive result. The first half began in a lacklustre fashion with neither side having much of an opportunity to open the scoring. Craig Walker and Ben Ferris restricted Munno to limited chances on goal, whilst Marcus Wheatley put in Will Ventura for a goal only to be disallowed for offside. With the match tightly poised at 0-0 at the break, OISC needed to lift a gear and coming out of the half took the lead as Michael Pannunzio put through by David Leach was able to beat the last defender and chip the ball over the keeper. Once again Leachy turned provider as Luke “Vossy” Rayner, tapped in a free kick from a metre out for OISC’s second. At the other end Mark Andrawos was solid with both hands and feet and as players began to fall. Vossy losing a contact was unable to see out the match and Avi Ringel joined him after being heavily winded. Holding out for the final 20 minutes saw OISC take a 2-1 win and keep them in the hunt for the title keeping pace with league leaders BOSA, remaining 6 points behind in second place.
The C Grade likewise was hit by unavailability and losing players to support higher grades but nevertheless fought to keep their good form going, Martin Radcliffe putting OISC on the board in the opening period, Stirling also getting on the board early to keep the match on level pegging. OISC regained the lead early in the second half; Coach Jim Koufalis scoring from a free kick. Inevitably again though the C’s struggled to keep the lead for the remainder of the match with Stirling again bringing it level. The 2-2 draw while not a win does extend the C’s unbeaten run to 5 matches.
The B Grade struggled with the task at hand, heavily impacted by player unavailability. Stirling maintained control for a majority of the match, OISC having few chances to do what they pledged before the match. There was some effort particularly from Captain John Smith to repel attacking one move after another and Dos at the other end to try to get OISC on the board but it was to no avail with Stirling running out 2-0 victors.
The A Grade had more of its players on the sideline than the field against a Stirling side who was also desperate for three points. OISC’s start could not have been more perfect with a Tarek Tabet tracer bullet from 25 yards rocketing into the back of the net and favouritism for goal of the year with little more than 3 minutes on the clock. OISC continued to build momentum with another two shots coming perilously close with Tom Smith grazing the crossbar and Elias Khoury also coming close. Stirling mid-way through the half brought it back on level terms with a shot that arrowed through everyone. Not long after a flick on from Carbs to Peter Barone saw him on receipt of the ball get caught in the box, the ref duly pointing to the spot. Those on the sideline keen to ensure that #penciccarello remained where he was and no where near the spot, leaving that man Tarek to line up and restore OISC’s lead. Coming out of the break OISC were slow to get going and their lead was protected by a strong Ciccarello save. Once again though OISC gave up the lead by holding on to the ball too long in their defensive half giving Stirling an opportunity with a long throw into the box and a simple finish. A harsh second yellow for Carbs when challenging for the ball in the air saw him dismissed and OISC needing to protect their defensive line while also pushing to regain the lead. Once again a late save from Emo kept the match level and that was how it finished, a 2-2 draw.
The Lady Wolves faced a uphill battle in their match against 3rd placed Westminster taking to the field with only 9 in their pack. Undeterred by the prospect of having to play a full match with two less players than their opposition, it served to only unite the girls who from the first whistle came out and took control of the match, both Eliza and Gemma both testing the keeper early; the opener nearly coming by way of a fumbling save. OISC continued to maintain a large portion of possession in their attacking half, Rachel being particularly industrious through the midfield and feeding those attacking moves. The number advantage did allow Westminster to inevitably make moves forward but the defence was up to the task, Tracey cutting off a number of moves down the right side; Della likewise putting in a number of key saves notably plucking the ball out of the air from a promising Westminster corner. At the break Coach Soriano couldn’t ask anything more from the girls other than to try to keep the battle going through the second half. Coming out of the break they duly picked up where they left off; Gemma and Eliza again tirelessly running after every chance to try and get the deserved goal again with no reward, finding the keeper time after time. At the other end, Westminster again had limited opportunities the OISC defence again holding strong, clearing out chance after chance; Della again making some important saves to ensure the game was not stolen out from underneath them. The final 0-0 scoreline while not the win their efforts deserved was equally just reward for one of the best rounded team performances the girls have produced in their history under adverse conditions.
Matchday 15 has a Cup flavour and gets underway on Wednesday night when the OISC Women line up in the Cup Semi Final against St Peters at Elite Systems Football Centre (Cowan St, Angle Park), kick off 7:45pm. Make sure you get out there and support them as they go for a place in the final. Then on Saturday Cup weekend arrives for the Men at the Superdome with the A Grade taking on Sat Div 4 side Monarchs (kick off 2:45pm). The D Grade continue in the league playing a curtain raiser to the A’s also against Monarchs (kick off 1pm). The B and C Grades enjoy a weekend off.