Liberty Falls to Open Australian Tour

Watch the full replay of the match here.

A chilly night in Manor Lakes, to the west of Melbourne, punctuated the opening game of the USA Liberty 2017 Australian tour.  Taking on a combined all-star side from players in the Essendon Districts (EDFL) and Western Regional (WRFL) Football Leagues, the Liberty fell by 22 points, but did so in a hard fought manner that the team could be proud of heading into the rest of the tour.

1st Quarter – The All Stars kicked the opening goal of the match and added a minor score before the Liberty’s Karen Stablein kicked a goal to cut it back to one point.  The American midfield showed signs of life early through Amy Arundale and Erica Sacci.  The Liberty back line, led by Lauré Kwoka, Valerie Barber-Axthelm and Stablein, were able put pressure on the All-Star attackers, and though the backs had the speed to cope with some of these attacks, their ball handling let them down and the combined side were up 15-6 at the first quarter on goals by Tricia Divine and Chloe DiNuccio.

2nd Quarter – The Liberty had their hands full again in the middle of the ground from the All-Stars’ Freedom Ebert’s link up ability, but good pressure from Kathryn Mullin and Kaitlyn Peterson limited any of the damage early in the first 15 minutes of the game.  The Americans started to get the ball forward in their own right, through Jess Nelson and Leilani Silvio to finally notch their first point of the half.  Kwoka and Robyn Leslie stepped up defensively to hem the All-Stars in within their defensive 50, and with Silvio, Arundale, and Clare Algozin putting pressure on, looked to close the gap.  Silvio booted home a key goal late in the half, and with the Liberty defense keeping the All-Stars off the major scoresheet, went into the long break only down 18-14 and with some confidence.

3rd Quarter – Having weathered a storm in the first quarter, the Liberty found themselves on the defense after getting a chance early in the term.  Arundale and company held fast for a couple of forays, but DiNuccio kicked her second about four minutes into the term to extend the All-Stars lead.  Kwoka and Barber-Axthelm made another key stop or two before Brooke Muscat added another major score to further widen the gap.  The Liberty found themselves marooned in their own defensive lines for the remainer of the quarter, and down 34-14 at the end of it.

4th Quarter – Into the final twenty minutes, the All-Stars pushed forward, testing defenders Lizzy Even, Barber-Axthelm, Cailin Deal and company, but a good passage of play that stretched out the Liberty defense led to and easy Samantha French goal early in the fourth to again widen the margin.  Robin Leslie stepped up in the middle to get more touches, helping to cap off a best-on-ground evening.  Again the All-Stars would be too good to move the ball down the ground as Ebert connected for her second.  The goal seemed to wake up the Liberty, with Nelson and Michaels able to shepherd the play forward, but they could only muster a single behind in a 47-15 decision, but it ended a good effort from beginning to end to the Liberty.

“There’s literally nothing like playing in Australia,” said captain Lizzy Even, “but especially as a US team playing an Australia.  Beautiful conditions, and a beautiful game.”

“I liked the intensity,” added Kwoka.  “It was hard keeping up with some of those girls, but I liked it, it was a good challenge.”

One injury concern on the night was Kassi Wilkerson, who went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.

The Liberty are back in action on Tuesday night, 6:30pm Local time (3:30am USEDT/12:30am USPDT) against Bulleen Templestowe.  The match will be streamed on the USAFL YouTube Channel.

Goals:
EDFL/WRFL All-Stars: Chloe DiNuccio 2, Tricia Divine, Freedom Ebert, Samantha French, Brooke Muscat
USA Liberty: Karen Stablein, Leilani Silvio

EDFL/WRFL

2.3.15

2.6.18

4.10.34

6.11.47

USAFL Liberty

1.0.6

2.2.14

2.2.14

2.3.15

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