Striking blow for defenders - October 9 2012

Striking blow for defenders

October 9 2012

Shepparton News

Shepparton United’s Brittany Patafio scored a rare win for defenders, with the Blues’ open women’s best-and-fairest award.

It was no surprise to see the 18-year-old walk away with the major prize after an outstanding season at the heart of United’s defence.

Patafio combines power with speed and reads the game exceptionally well, making life difficult for even the best strikers in the Goulburn North East Football Association.

She won the award ahead of leading scorer Kerry Hammersley.

‘‘I was a bit surprised, because I’m a defender I don’t usually get votes,’’ Patafio said.

‘‘It was pretty exciting and it was a good way to finish the season.’’

The Blues dominated the season, winning every game on their way to a third straight premiership.

However, they were made to earn it in the grand final, twice being pegged back by a determined Numurkah outfit, before eventually prevailing 5-2.

What was most surprising about the final result was that the premiers had their defences breached on two occasions, having only conceded four goals for the season.

That United boasted such a miserly defence was in large part due to Patafio’s steadying influence.

A former Women’s Premier League player with development side VCL Country, the no-nonsense defender played alongside current Melbourne Victory W-League player Maika Ruyter-Hooley.

She has since turned her attention to her studies, but admitted she does harbour ambitions of returning to the WPL in the future.

After crossing to United from Shepparton South last season, Patafio now has two premiership medals and could hardly be happier at Central Park with her role in the side.

‘‘Everyone can count on each other and that’s why we’re so good in defence,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s a pretty good confidence booster to keep so many clean sheets, because if you don’t get goals scored against you, you can’t lose.’’

Patafio also finished runner-up in the league best-and-fairest award, behind Kyabram Phoenix’s attacker Janna Lawson.

While goalscorers often get the plaudits when a team wins, Patafio has always been a defender and said she would not have it any other way.


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