The 2019 WNPL Reserves season has come to a close, and similarly to the MUWFC First Team, it has been a season of ups and downs.
Marcelo Vilches stayed on as coach after the 2018 season in which his side claimed all 3 trophies, being the Cup, Premiership, and Championship to become undefeated treble winners.
There were some new additions to the side with players being brought across to the club by WNPL coach Tony Scalzi, but the core of the 2018 side was able to be kept by Vilches.
However, similar to the First Team again, the injury curse hit the Reserves side in 2019. Newly appointed Captain Zoe Hammond only managed 8 League matches before a recurring shoulder injury ruled her out for the remainder of the season, meaning that former Captain Jess Walkden took over the on-field captaincy of the team. Bianca Contestabile was also ruled out for the remainder of 2019 after a horrific lower leg injury which included a broken bone and torn ligaments in her ankle. Her tenacity and constant attack at the ball was a massive loss for the side.
Stefany Scriva missed large parts of the season due to injury, as did key defender Mirella Scalzi who was injured during pre-season, leaving Casey Elliott-Tripodi and Walkden as the usual mainstays in defence.
The goalkeeper issues that plagued the WNPL side flowed down and affected the Reserves side as well, meaning that 4 different goalkeepers were used throughout the season, including MUWFC Division 1 goalkeeper Olivia Bunge, as well as Division 1 Captain and usual forward Mary Weaver, who along with scoring goals, is a well rounded goalkeeper.
Not only was the goalkeepers an issue, a total of 35 players were used in the Reserves in 2019, really showing how much injury affected the consistency of the side. No player managed to play all 21 WNPL Reserves League matches, with Casey Elliott-Tripodi and Jess Walkden both managing 19 games, Amber-May Smith 18 games and Tansy Kember with 17 games.
As is the case with the senior side, the club will be working hard to prevent the same issues happening in 2020.
With all of that taken into account, 2019 will have been seen as a major disappointment for the Reserves side, finishing in 5th place with 9 wins, 2 draws and 10 losses, a goal difference of +10, and also, along with the WNPL side, missing the Finals Series for the first time in the WNPL era. Although it was always going to be tough following an undefeated season in 2018.
With the change in the women’s football structure in 2019, the Reserves were in the same Cup competition as both our WNPL side and our Division 1 side this season and had a good run to the Quarter Final stage.
Round 1 saw us beat Adelaide City Reserves convincingly, followed up by a 3-0 win over Salisbury Inter Reserves in Round 2. A massive draw for the Quarter Final saw us come up against Adelaide City’s WNPL side, as our girls succumbed to a 2-0 loss, but certainly put up a good fight against the eventual Cup winners.
Although the good news is that some young players were given some opportunity to play some WNPL Reserves football, with the likes of junior players Bonnie Dodds, Emma Cotgrove, Maria Pacheco, Michaela Hadaj, and Olivia Tripodi all making appearances throughout the season. With these players more than likely to be playing WNPL Reserves in the coming few years, the experience for them will great for their development.
Similarly to the WNPL side, the Reserves will want to bounce back in 2020 and be fighting for silverware once again.