Emma Lipman could not have asked for a perfect ending to her first season at Como Women after securing promotion to the Serie A Femminile on the final day of the season.
I Lariani seized their chance of playing top-flight football after easing past Roma Calcio Femminile at the Stadio Giuseppe Sinigaglia, home of the Como men’s team – even though there is no connection between the men and women’s teams.
The 1,400 people that attended the match created an electric atmosphere and witnessed their club going back to Italy’s top-flight for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
In March, Brescia and Como faced each other in a highly-anticipated match which could have potentially determined which way was the Serie B championship going.
Brescia, hosting the match, had drew first blood in the first half and were enjoying their one-goal lead until Como drew level five minutes from time.
A point would have kept them at the top of the pile but their joy was cut short when Brescia found the winner in the 95th minute.
As things stood, Como were pipped by Brescia to top spot and Lipman’s team now had to chase as they were now trailing the new leaders by two points.
“We never lost belief and that what helped us,” Lipman told the Times of Malta.
“After losing to Brescia, San Marino and Cortefranca, our sporting director challenged us to win the remaining games of the season and see where our results take us.
“Deep down, we still believed we could turn this around if we won all our next games.”
With three games left for the season, Brescia were due to meet a strong Cortefranca and Como were facing already-relegated Palermo. Como’s hopes relied on Cortefranca, a team against whom they lost in the first round of the season.
“When we saw that Brescia defeated Cortefranca, it looked different for us with two games left but we stayed motivated,” Lipman explained.
Everything changed in the penultimate day of the season. Como produced a stunning victory over Cortefranca and Brescia were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw by Cesena, a mid-table side who had nothing to compete for.
“That was it. No one had stopped believing and our belief paid off,” Lipman underlined.
“In the final game of the season, we got the chance to seize the promotion in front of a nice crowd at the men’s stadium. It was amazing. I am truly lost for words looking back at what happened.”
Since dropping into Serie B in 2017, Como endured a couple of difficult seasons as well having been relegated to Serie C and failing to get promoted at the first time of asking.
Nonetheless, everything changed when club president Stefano Verga appointed Saimir Keci as sporting director of the club.
Keci, formerly at Inter, was handed with the task of laying the foundations of a competitive squad for the next two seasons.
Hiring coach Sebastian De La Fuente, also with a past at Inter, was his first piece of the jigsaw before starting to bring in the right players including Lipman.
The Malta women’s captain was at the end of another successful Serie B campaign, this time at Lazio. She contributed to the Biancoceleste’s promotion to Serie A after an absence of eight seasons before parting ways with the club.
Lipman’s experience was deemed as crucial piece to Como’s puzzle by Keci and eventually the Malta international vinced herself of spending another year in Serie B, even though she was evaluating the option of seeking pastures new in another country as well.
At the end of the season, Lipman’s strong displays contributed to Como producing the best defensive record with just 17 goals conceded in 26 games.
“It turned out to be a fantastic experience, just as both the coach and the sporting director had promised to me in our first chat,” Lipman underlined.
Yet, it has not always been plain sailing for Lipman at Como in particular at turn of the year when some amendments in the COVID-19 protocol were almost forcing the Malta women’s player out of Italy.
She could not train with the group and when the Serie B resumed following a short and improvised break due to a spike in the COVID-19 cases, Lipman was not at her best.
Italy turning pro
“I struggled to get into the rhythm of play instantly and I remember doing a costly mistake against San Marino after just five seconds,” she admitted.
“It was tough for me, but I found a group that supported me all the way and allowed me to find my balance.”
She emerged from that difficult period stronger than the first part of the season and was also a match winner for Como when they defeated Cittadella 1-0 in the business end of the season.
Asked about next season, Lipman would like to return to Como and give herself another chance in the Serie A Femminile, in particular in the year where the top-flight will turn professional.
“I would like to give myself another chance in the Serie A after two years in Serie B,” Lipman said.
“I’ll wait to have a talk with Como and see whether we will extend our relationship for another year. Whatever happens, I will always be grateful for this opportunity.”
With Italy’s Serie A turning professional, for Lipman would be an interesting year to see how the movement will evolve with the new obligations.
“The Italy women’s national team has been doing well while Juventus had a remarkable UEFA Women’s Champions League campaign – the game has become a spectacle here in Italy and therefore it is a well-deserved reward for the female athletes,” the former Roma and Florentia San Gimignano player said.
“However, being professional does not mean paying what the players are entitled but also providing proper infrastructure and proper technical staff.”