Cheal is the real deal

The Riverine Herald - - SPORT - By Alex Mitchell

ALEX Cheal’s South Mel­bourne side has writ­ten an­other chap­ter in the club’s al­ready fa­mous his­tory, win­ning the Women’s Na­tional Premier League Vic­to­ria in its first sea­son in the com­pe­ti­tion.

The Echuca soc­cer player, the long­time cap­tain of the side, took a penalty in a nerve-wrack­ing shootout af­ter Gee­long Gal­axy United tied the grand fi­nal at 3-3 in ex­tra time.

Cheal calmly slot­ted her side’s sixth penalty to keep the side in the game, keeper Molly-May Ram­say pro­duc­ing a save from the next spot kick to al­low Caitlin Greiser to win the ti­tle for her side.

Her fourth cham­pi­onship at the club, Cheal was lost for words de­scrib­ing the pres­sure of the shootout.

‘‘A penalty shootout is in­de­scrib­able, no one un­der­stands how it feels un­less they’ve been a part of one,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s that heart in your mouth feel­ing, and you’ve got in your mind that it’s for your team, there’s a lot of girls be­hind you you’re do­ing it for.

‘‘But at the end of the day, we’re at the elite level and that’s the pro­fes­sion­al­ism, you need to try and step up and be a leader.’’

In an­other stel­lar sea­son for de­fender Cheal, her South Mel­bourne side only lost twice, win­ning 21 of 27 reg­u­lar sea­son games be­fore an ex­cit­ing run to the pre­mier­ship.

South needed ex­tra time to beat Calder United in the semi-fi­nal, scor­ing twice in the ex­tra pe­riod to take a 4-2 win.

And the grand fi­nal was just as dra­matic, a penalty shootout re­quired to split the sides. South led 2-0 in the first half and 3-2 in ex­tra time, but couldn’t shake off the Gee­long fight.

‘‘For me it was more frus­trat­ing than any­thing,’’ Cheal said.

‘‘To be up 2-0 and dom­i­nat­ing for the ma­jor­ity of the game, and then cop a goal for 2-1, you start to panic and it starts to get chaotic.

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