The Ballarat Eureka Strikers are back at home this week against traditional rival Melbourne University. Last season the two fought it out for the State League 1 title with the Ballarat Eureka Strikers defeating Melbourne University 3-1 in the final game of the season to finish top. Melbourne University got their revenge in the final series and also defeated the Eureka Strikers in the Team App Cup Round 2 clash.
The Eureka Strikers will be looking forward to levelling the ledger and believe that playing at Morshead Park will provide them with a massive advantage. According to Laura Brady, ‘the larger ground suits our game style and should allow us to expose Melbourne University’s lack of pace in defence.’
To capitalise on this advantage the Eureka Strikers have made a tactical change, bringing Lisie Dodds into the squad. Dodds has had a solid start to the season in the development squad and has been increasingly deployed as a striker, she has also provided impetus coming off the bench in Round 1 and 2 in the Senior squad and set up the Eureka Strikers second goal. Coach Laura Brady commented ‘Lisie has always offered raw pace but she has added a degree of composure to her game so far this season; she can be used up front but can also offer a lot of run on either wing and she has become much more aggressive over the past few weeks. She is the sort of player that can come on and disrupt a game which is what we sorely lacked against South Yarra.’
Instead of being a top of the table clash, as this match has been for the last few years, this week’s game is 7th (Eureka Strikers) against 8th. The change in fortunes demonstrates how much more competitive State League 1 is this year, ‘With the Women’s NPL having 8 instead of 12 teams, and two of those teams not coming from previous WPL clubs the State League 1 competition has definitely increased in intensity. We have just come off playing two ex-WPL sides and the next two weeks we play teams that have beaten Melbourne University, there are no easy games, and this week’s game is vital to restore some belief in the squad.’
In both previous clashes the Eureka Strikers have created more opportunities but have not been able to capitalise. ‘Composure in front of goals is a massive area for us to improve in and part of that is about confidence. We have to keep working away and trusting our structures and processes, if we can do that we can start to turn around results pretty quickly.’