Cortnee Vine spent plenty of hours at the park growing up trying to emulate the bending kicks of Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos.
On Saturday night, the 20-year-old Jets attacking weapon shocked herself when she produced a curling show-stopper of her own that led to what is sure to be a contender for W-League goal of the year.
Vine’s wonder strike from the right corner of the 18-yard box swung, then dipped into the top left corner on the stroke of half-time in Newcastle’s crucial 1-0 win over Canberra United at McDonald Jones Stadium.
It got the Jets off the mark as they aim to again play finals football in the W-League.
“I wasn’t expecting it. It came out of nowhere,” Vine told the Newcastle Herald on Sunday.
“[Katie] Stengel set me up pretty well. I hesitated a little bit, thinking ‘am I going to hit it’, then I just hit through it. That’s the side I was aiming for but I wasn't expecting it to swing and dip.”
Stengel received the ball with a player at her back in the 47th minute, rolled free and released Vine into space on the right.
It was the second W-League goal for the Queensland-raised Vine, who produced her first when the Jets went down 2-1 to Melbourne Victory in their opening match of the season on November 1.
“I would always go down to the park and I’d try to shoot like Roberto Carlos, the way he struck it with the outside of the boot,” Vine said.
“I actually didn’t hit it on the outside of my boot. I hit it right on my laces but I just swung through and it went the other way.
“As soon as I hit it, it was just a sweet hit and it went in and I thought, ‘Wow’.
“I was a bit shocked and then just happy we were up 1-0.”
After being used mostly off the bench last season for the Jets, Vine has started both matches for Newcastle this campaign and is determined to keep her spot with more scoring form.
“I started a couple right at the start of last season then I ended up being a substitute,” she said. “I didn’t mind that but this year I came into Jets hoping to get that starting spot. Hopefully I can keep on scoring and keep on starting.”
It was Stengel, Newcastle’s leading scorer last season, who also set up Vine’s goal against Victory.
“I owe her two,” Vine said.
“I really like playing with her and find her so easy to play with. She just slips the ball through and she has the best feet. I just make the run. I feel like whatever situation she is in she will just slip it through like she did for the first goal.”
It was an important three points for the Jets, who had the no-points bye in round one and took the field against Canberra in round three without injured key trio Emily van Egmond (knee), Tara Andrews (ankle) and Larissa Crummer (thigh).
Newcastle coach Craig Deans gave rookie Teigan Collister her starting debut.
“For the young girls that came in and the squad players that haven’t played a lot, to come in and do what they did today, I’m pretty proud of what they did,” Deans said post-match on Saturday night.
“Teigan is just a young kid that never played at this level before. To lose Emily and Tara Andrews with 10 years of playing at this level and throw a young kid like Teigan in there and ask her to try to do something that fills a gap that those guys leave is a big ask. But I think her work-rate and her energy was excellent right up until she came off.”
Deans said Vine “has got a huge amount of talent” and a place in the starting side was “her spot to lose”.
“The goal she scored against Victory was something as a team we’ve been working on, her making runs,” he said.
“Katie Stengel, when she gets on the ball is very difficult to get it off her, so we’ve worked a little bit with Cortnee making good runs when Katie gets the ball.
“Last week’s goal we’d worked on. Cortnee could hit that shot [tonight] another 500 times and they’ll end up in the stand. I’m happy for her though because she is a good kid ... this is probably the first year she’s been a starter in a W-League team so I’m happy for her but I think this needs to be something she builds on, not be satisfied with.
“If she keeps working hard and if she keeps scoring goals then she stays in the team.”
Newcastle had the better of the chances in the first half on Saturday night before Vine broke the deadlock.
The hosts continued to dominate after the break but Canberra applied plenty of pressure in the final stages with goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom forced to pull off some late saves before Ellie Carpenter’s last-gasp attempt for the visitors glanced just wide of the post.
The Jets play Western Sydney away on November 24 then Brisbane at No.2 Sportsground on November 29.
Deans said Andrews looked likely to be sidelined for up six weeks with a fracture in her ankle while van Egmond and Crummer would be monitored this week but would not be risked against the Wanderers if not fully fit.