The Ballarat Eureka Strikers will kick-off its Football Federation Victoria state league one north-west season against a Lara outfit with its own Ballarat flavour.
Lara is coached by a former Strikers assistant coach and has a number of former Ballarat players in its line-up - adding some spice to the already highly-anticipated round one clash.
Ballarat will take a young group to Lara Recreation Reserve, but it will not be lacking in experience. Coach Laura Brady said while there will be many teenagers in the side, the majority have played a number of seniors seasons already. She expected a strong performance from her group, but said there was an unknown factor given its youth.
“We should hopefully come away with a win from the first encounter. They’ll probably be a little more experienced, but we should be quicker,” Brady said.
“Despite the youth, they’ve been around for a while.
"The youthfulness of the team, they’ve all played quite a significant amount of senior football already. But that immaturity can leave you vulnerable at times, it’s just a little more unpredictable about how they’ll respond to things. When they’re on, they’re really on, but if their confidence gets hit early that makes things more complicated.
“But in terms of skill-level, fitness, all those things I think they’re our real strengths.”
Brady expected Lara to have more experience than the Eureka Strikers, but equally the side’s youth would translate to speed on the outside.
Brady said the aim was to play an attacking brand of soccer – not only with the ball – but also when defending. The first line of thinking would be to play aggressively, but Brady said if the match started to get away from them, a more conservative approach would be taken.
“Our intention is to play attacking football, and even when we’re defending, defending high up the pitch. Use that speed and aggression to create the turnover in more threatening areas.
“Our starting point is a plan to score goals rather than prevent goals – we’re looking to take risks.”
Kassy Stabb will make her debut as club captain while the starting side will have a number of changes. Hannah Sawkins joins from Melbourne University, Molly Esmonde returns after a year off while young gun Alannah Stevens, 15, has been promoted from the development squad.