Box Hill United’s senior women turned in a prolific second-half display to overcome Melbourne University 3-0 in the 2019 Nike FC Cup semi-final.
Japanese import Asuka Kakazu netted a double and young gun Maja Markovski added a third from the penalty spot for us at the CB Smith Reserve on Wednesday evening.
The win meant that Box Hill, playing as the home side this time around at a neutral venue, have punched their ticket to the Cup final for the second year running.
Under chilly and wind-swept conditions at Fawkner, State League giants Melbourne University looked to cash in on the direction of the gale in the first-half in front of live Football Victoria cameras.
They deployed a tight-pressing style, forcing Box Hill to focus on staying composed and cohesive. But for all their possession early on, Melbourne University failed to find a way past Bethany Mason-Jones in the hosts’ goal.
In the first quarter itself, Mason-Jones had reflexively denied two snapshots from distance, while bustling centre-back Rhiannon Fensom deflected Chloe Romero’s attempt from the right of the penalty area.
Mason-Jones then stood firm to deny Miranda Fazzalari on 23 minutes with a routine save despite an awkward bounce on the ball, and flew at full stretch to thwart a stinging free-kick from Fazzalari close to the half-time.
After the change of ends, Box Hill flew out of the traps with a shoot-at-sight approach, which saw them earn successive corners. But Melbourne University somehow survived the initial phase.
However, on 54 minutes, speedster Elaina Vatcky’s cross was met by Markovski, but the ball bobbled out for a corner via a deflection. Captain Hayley Geurts’ delivery was then stabbed home by an unmarked Kakazu for Box Hill’s opener.
Young Laura Pickett then had a shy from 20 yards, but Shannon Flower in the Melbourne goal was equal to it on 67 minutes. Moments later, Vatcky saw her close-range effort under pressure drift just wide of the near post.
On 79 minutes, Box Hill doubled their advantage, as Kakazu nodded home on the rebound after Flower had tipped another of Pickett’s trademark long-rangers onto the crossbar.
Three minutes later, the Melbourne University backline found Vatcky’s pace and trickery too hot to handle, conceding a penalty in the process, which Markovski expertly despatched.
Box Hill could have increased their lead twice near the closing stages, but Flower ensured the scoreline remained respectable.
On 88 minutes, the Melbourne University shot-stopper pawed Geurts’ 35-yard free-kick that was destined for the top-right corner, and denied Caitlin Storay from finding the net from 30 yards two minutes later.
For Box Hill, youngsters Erin Keyt, Maia Heysen and Gabriella Eggleton also grabbed valuable minutes under their belt as rolling substitutes in Wednesday’s Cup outing.
Box Hill United starting-XI: N Dakic, O Ellis, R Fensom, H Geurts (C), A Kakazu, M Lantieri-Bartley, M Markovski, B Mason-Jones (GK), L Pickett, C Storay, E Vatcky
Box Hill United substitutes: G Eggleton (GK), N Griffen, M Heysen, E Keyt, M Martinez