It doesn’t get better than that.

Sale United Football Club’s senior women topped off their maiden Latrobe Valley Soccer League championship-winning season, claiming the Browne-Huizer Cup for a second consecutive year.

Tenille Page netted her first career goal to seal Sale’s 2-1 victory over adversaries Fortuna in a highly physical Cup final at Latrobe City Stadium on the AFL Grand Final Eve public holiday (Friday, September 29).

Following Sale United’s first league championship-winning season, losing just one game throughout the 2023 campaign, the Swanettes braced for one last hoorah with a clear objective: defend the Browne-Huizer Cup.

The 2022 Browne-Huizer Cup Final marked the first time Sale United’s senior women made a Final appearance in more than a decade, with a 6-0 thrashing against East Gippsland securing the Swanettes’ first-ever silverware.

Sale’s road to this year’s Browne-Huizer Cup final was rather anti-climactic, particularly given last year’s thrilling Cup campaign – defeating Fortuna 5-1 in the quarter finals and 2022 league champions Falcons 4-3 in the semi to book a ticket to the big dance.

With a bye in Round 1 this season (drawn at random), Sale eagerly awaited results. The Swanettes were to play the winner of Moe United and Falcons in the quarter finals.

Miley Cooper put two goals away for Moe, but the Red Devils fell short in their efforts.

Falcons’ Madison Rossi netted a brace, with Kristina Mezentseff, Monique Lapenta and Chloe Martin putting one past the keeper to seal a 5-2 victory for Falcons.

Fortuna also had a Round 1 bye and awaited results from the Churchill United and Monash game, with the Lions to take on the winner in the quarter finals.

An Ebony Webb goal claimed Churchill a 1-0 victory.

Sale progressed to the semi-final, having yet played a single minute, after the Falcons were unable to field a team for the semi, giving the Swanettes an automatic 3-0 win on forfeit.

Fortuna played their quarter final against Churchill, breezing through the round with a 5-0 victory.

Sophie Jarvis scored a hat-trick, and Tenae Shankland netted a brace.

Fortuna played Tyers Lightning in the semi-final, following Lightning’s 1-0 win over Newborough/Yallourn United, while Morwell Peagasus’ 1-0 win against Traralgon City put the Flying Horsemen up against Sale.

Lightning’s efforts, as valiant as they may have been, fell devastatingly short, with Tyers unable to overcome the roaring Lions.

Emily Brabazon slotted the winning goal, progressing Fortuna to the final after beating Tyers 1-0 at Traralgon’s Harold Preston Reserve.

A captain and coach goal booked Sale United’s ticket to the Grand Final.

Zoe Askew and Madelaine Breakspear netted goals before the break, giving Sale United a two-goal buffer when teams returned for the second leg of the semi-final.

Pegasus challenged the league champions with a Mabior Anyieth goal, curtailing Sale United’s lead.

Anyieth’s goal was ultimately a consolation, as Sale thwarted a chaotic Morwell without untoward occurrences before the final whistle’s blow.

And so, with Fortuna’s 1-0 win over Tyers Lightning and Sale’s 2-1 victory against Pegasus, the 2023 Browne-Huizer Cup finalists were decided.

Oh, what a game was in store.

It is fair to say there has been a long ongoing rivalry between Fortuna and Sale, and with the Lions having yet to defeat the Swanettes in 2023, they were out for blood.

Losing to Sale 4-2 in Round 1 of the Nike FC Cup, 2-1 in Round 1 of the LVSL and 8-0 in Round 12, the Lions were looking for something like fourth time a charm.

It had been expected Fortuna would draw on brute force in an attempt to take the upper hand. Still, despite clattering into several Sale players and borderline reckless studs-up challenges, the Lions’ fearmongering tactics were useless.

Sale did well to drown out execrative on-field taunting and remained unphased as they were barked at from behind.

A goal from young gun Dani Wilson, lashing into the top left corner from the top of the box off a Hollie Ryan corner, gave Sale an early advantage.

Sophie Jarvis netted an equaliser before the break, with scores levelled 1-all.

Lions’ captain Brabazon may have been the most booked player this season, banking four yellows and a red, but it was Fortuna’s Alyssa Palermo who was shown the game’s only yellow card.

The first 45 minutes of the 2023 Browne-Huizer Cup Final had proved a nail-biting affair, with things heating up when teams returned to the stage.

With play congested in the middle of the field and little chances at both ends, overtime looked a possibility as the clock ticked closer to the hour mark.

In what can only be described as a fairytale ending, Sale United’s Tenielle Page struck a half-volley off a Madelaine Breakspear corner, burying her first-ever career goal and the match-winner.

Fortuna pressed aggressively, desperately looking for the goal to make things level.

Sale remained steadfast in their defence, with young gun Millie Harbour outstanding in the midfield – her work rate and tenacity unmatched.

The final whistle sounded, spelling victory for Sale United.

Madelaine Breakspear and Romi Bitar’s league champions defeated Fortuna 2-1 to claim the 2023 Browne Huizer Cup, completing a historic double.

Breakspear was awarded best-on-ground.

Sale United Football Club president Tom Breakspear described the Browne-Huizer Cup final as an exciting affair.

“It was certainly one of the most testing games I have seen for the Swanettes this year, but as they have all year, bar one game, doubled down in the second half and showed the fitness and strength behind the ball,” he said.

“Fortuna has been a bit of an adversary team this year, and the Swanettes really prepared to play a big game against them.

“I think every time they played against them this year, it has been considered a big game, and the Cup Final played out like that as well; it was close.”

Breakspear said Page’s maiden career goal, which sealed Sale United’s triumph, encapsulated the team’s efforts all season, individually and collectively.

“It speaks volumes of the team, what the Swanettes have worked at as a team and how they’ve played this year, that Tenielle (Page) coming from being new to the sport to being in the right place at the right time to carry the team through,” he said.

“It shows how much everyone has played a part in the squad.”

Securing back-to-back Browne-Huizer Cup victories on top of an inaugural league championship has propelled Sale United’s 2023 senior women’s squad into the history books yet again as the club’s first team to secure the double.

“It has been a really successful year for the club all round,” Breakspear said.

“Our junior teams, we made four out of six Grand Finals and won two of those. The senior men’s team finished off the season knocking off some big clubs, which was really good to see, to see that coming together.

“But as I think we all know, our women’s team have been absolutely outstanding this year. Not only from a women’s football perspective, but if you look at that sort of achievement in the context of any league, it’s a rarity.

“I’m very proud to be part of a club that’s been so successful, particularly successful with our women’s team, and that’s really leading the way in women’s football.”

Sale United is undeniably leading the way in women’s football in the region, with high participation numbers and weekly game supporters, just scratching at the surface of supporting evidence.

The benefits of fostering a gender-inclusive club culture are evident through the Swanettes’ bolstered on-field performance, with Breakspear owing Sale United’s environment to the strong female leadership embedded in the club.

“We have really strong leadership throughout the club, in Madi (Breakspear) and Anouk (Meereboer) being both our senior coaches,” Breakspear said.

“Romi (Bitar) has been a massive leader of change in that space and has been supporting those girls coming through from the juniors into the women’s game, which has been absolutely integral in being able to be where we are today.”