EAST Armidale striker Louis Russoniello scored the decider late in the NIPL Rising Stars fixture as the northern conference scored three unanswered second-half goals to beat the southern conference 3-2 in the Rising Stars clash at Ken Chillingworth Oval on Saturday.
The visitors found themselves behind early, courtesy of the Southern Stars getting plenty of ball out of the midfield, while the Northern players were missing the few chances they had.
After playing with and against his teammates all year, Russoniello knew it would only be a matter of time before the goals started going in.
“It was a bit of a shock to be 2-nil down off the bat early,” Russoniello said.
“I knew that eventually we would start putting them in.”
Brodie King and Matt Dunn did just that in the first quarter as the Southern Stars jumped to an early lead and looked like they might extend it before the visitors launched a fightback.
The striker almost didn’t play this season, although is now glad he changed his mind.
A few years ago he was playing in the Joeys Mini World Cup when former Socceroos coach Rale Rasic picked him out from the other boys, telling them he had the natural ability to play for Australia.
This season the Easts youngster took out the Golden Boot at the Mini World Cup and carried that form through to the regular season, tallying seven for the season.
“I wasn’t going to play because I am doing Year 12 this year and had some other stuff on,” Russoniello said.
“I am glad I did because I have had a great season at Easts.
“We didn’t start out very well but at the end of the seaoson we had a really good side.”
Russoniello certainly noticed the step up to first grade this season but made the most of his opportunities.
“The game is a lot faster and quicker in first grade with better passing,” he said.
“It has been really great to play with the older lads.
“And really good to play with the best young guys today.”
The forward will miss next season, choosing to do a gap year in England after he completes the HSC at Duval next term.
“I am going to a sports boarding school to work and live in Bruton,” Russoniello said.
“Hopefully I will play some football but mostly just to live it up while I can.”