Stephen Peters leads women’s team at Macarthur Rams FC to championship success

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It took a dramatic penalty shootout to determine the Champion for the 2022 National Premier Leagues (NPL) Women’s NSW competition, as the Macarthur Rams defeated the Northern Tigers 6-5 on penalties after a 0-0 draw following 120 minutes of football at Valentine Sports Park. 

Morgan Aquino rightfully was handed the player of the game medal after an outstanding performance between the sticks for the Tigers, but it would not be enough as the Tigers fell once again to a penalty shootout in the grand final.

Despite immense pressure on the Tigers goal throughout the game, the side of Greek Australian Stephen Peters could not break the deadlock until the penalty shootout where Shamiran Khamis made the decisive save to bring the Championship to Lynwood Park.

The first half onslaught started from the Rams after only five minutes when Mel Caceres did well down the left by-line before cutting back for Leena Khamis who sent her effort over the bar from a good position.

The second half started with the Tigers coming out much better and almost taking the lead. Shadeene Evans let fly on the volley with her effort just going wide of the target.

The Macarthur Rams women’s team.

With 10 minutes to go the Rams thought they were in front. Fine work by Khamis inside the box saw her clip the ball to the far post for Laura Murtagh to volley toward goal, again, somehow Aquino kept it from crossing the line.

Unable to be separated and Aquino standing tall, the game moved into extra time. As legs tired, the first chance in extra time came courtesy of Hannah McNulty, but her shot went just over the bar.

McNulty then went close again, dribbling through three defenders and getting into the box before her legs gave way on her, missing the ball at the final moment.

It was the Tigers best patch of the game but were unable to capitalise as the match moved into a shootout.

Alex Huynh stepped up first and sent Aquino the wrong way. This was followed by McNulty and Holly Williams before Shadeene Evans sprayed her penalty wide of the goal, the Tigers first to blink.

Veteran Kylie Ledbrook then stepped up but Aquino read the shot and the Tigers had the chance to go level again.

Stephen Peters with a team player.

From there it seemed as though we’d go deep into the night as Izzy Gomez, Beth Gordon, Morgan Aquino, Madison McComasky, Maddie Bart and Leena Khamis all scored their penalties.

With the Rams in front 6-5 it was sudden death as Khamis saved from Abbey Green to secure the Championship for the Rams.

An emotional Stephen Peters was overwhelmed with everything that had taken place.

“How we don’t win that game in 90 minutes I don’t know,” Peters said.

“I thought we were brilliant from start to finish, the Tigers had a late flurry, I thought they had a better reaction after half time but the girls just got it inside (pounds heart) and the motivation was clear from the start.”

It was an extra special moment for two Rams legends as Kylie Ledbrook ended her playing career while long time club administrator Rob Laws also will be departing from his position.

Source: NPL NSW / NPL NSW Women’s Chief Writer and Commentator Nikola Pozder.

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