The Eureka Strikers have been outclassed by an experienced Melbourne University side away from home, falling 2-0 in the round 13 encounter.
The Strikers were forced to be creative in their offensive movements from the get-go due to the absence of star forward Alison Pym.
Determined to stick to a new high-possession game style, the Strikers looked to find the gaps in the defensive structure of their more seasoned opposition.
While an opportunity would come for the visitors via a corner kick, they would soon find themselves on the back foot when a fast break from the hosts caught the Strikers off guard to give Melbourne University a one goal lead heading into the break.
In what was otherwise a more even affair, neither side was able to assert itself on top of the contest for the majority of the second term.
With the result looking settled, the Strikers pushed numbers forward in search of an equaliser late in the game; a move Melbourne University would ultimately be able to capitalise on.
Strikers coach Laura Brady said despite the result, she was pleased with the way her charges performed against one of the north-west conference’s most consistent performers.
“We went out with the same approach as last week, looking to improve our ability to maintain possession of the ball and improve our shape and I thought we did that,” Brady said. “We did get caught on the counter attack in the first half which is something we have to work on.”
Erin Plucke had one of her most impressive matches for the year, while youngster Claire Demuth stood up well to the physicality of the senior contest.
With five games left in the regular season, the fifth-placed Strikers still remain a realistic chance of a top four finish. Coming off the back of clashes against the top three sides, the Strikers will enjoy an easier run home.
However in order to get there they will have to do away with the vastly improved Eltham Redbacks, who currently occupy fourth place thanks to a string of impressive wins against the likes of South Melbourne and South Yarra.
“We’ve got a good chance of finishing fourth, but at the moment we’re more interested in the way we get there,” Brady said.
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