The Young Matildas opened their campaign in the Oceania U19 Women's World Championship Qualifiers with a comfortable 11-0 win over hosts Tonga this afternoon, after eight players posted their name on the scoresheet.
The two teams put on an entertaining show in front of an appreciative crowd as Tonga defended with great determination. Despite an excellent performance by Tongan goalkeeper Likiliki, Australia's advantages in terms of experience, skill, and fitness were overwhelming.
The difference between the teams was apparent early, the Young Matildas opening their account at the five minute mark, and following up with another three within the half-hour.
Highlights of the match included Collette McCallum's effectiveness in set plays, scoring twice herself from long range freekicks and delivering two corners which were converted by Hayley Crawford and Emma Davison.
Selin Kuralay came in off the bench ten minutes before half-time, and finished top scorer with a hattrick. Her first goal was care of a deflection off a teammate's shot just before the break, followed by a flick at the near post to finish a McCallum cross. Kuralay then struck from the edge of the box to complete the triple.
Caitlin Muñoz scored in the first half on the turn from a McCallum freekick on the left. Defender Thea Slatyer found herself in sight of goal to volley home an Elissia Canham cross, Amber Neilson nailed a 20 metre drive, and Stacey Stocco nicked in from close range from a Canham cross.
Goalkeeper Lisa Hartley and forward Lisa De Vanna each celebrated their youth international debut as members of the starting eleven.
National Youth Coach Mike Mulvey said it was a pleasing first-up performance. "Once we started to adapt to the conditions, including the hard surface, we started to play some good stuff. Now we're looking to fine-tune the quality of our passing." Mulvey added that some of the goals were spectacular, but he was looking forward to improvement in the next game.
The team passed through the match without serious injury, although some players have been badly grazed on the hard, dry surface.
The Young Matildas face the Cook Islands on Friday who are coached by Maurice Tillotson, former senior National Coach of New Zealand. With Group B the smaller pool (3 teams), this will be Australia's last preliminary match before next Wednesday's semifinals.