It’s time to enter the finals gauntlet. Five teams enter, only one will emerge victorious and be declared the champion in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens.
The first week features a fascinating Elimination Final and an intriguing Qualifying Final so let’s not waste time, onto the preview!
Elimination Final: Nepean FC vs Central Coast Mariners, Saturday August 10, 3:45pm, Valentine Sports Park #3
There is a fine line between pleasure and pain. Nepean FC and Central Coast Mariners clash in the Elimination Final on Saturday afternoon to see who stays alive in the competition.
There is a sense of déjà vu for Nepean FC. This makes back-to-back appearances in the Elimination Final after their shootout loss to APIA Leichhardt Tigers last year. Coach Alan Tasses side will be confident in getting past this stage.
Nepean FC were a consistent force this season, they finished fourth, winning 15 games and drawing four. They were a side that held their own against the heavyweights and know that on their day, it might be their time to make a deep run.
The strength of Nepean FC has been their defense. Marshalled expertly by Desiree Vassallo, they were the second stingiest defense behind APIA, will make life tough for the Mariners attacker.
Looking further upfield, Stefanie Trovato leads the way with 14 goals. Imogen Lane finished the season with a bang scoring four goals in the last month. Add to that midfielder experience in Lauren Gaul and Annie Halls to avoid them getting overawed.
Going on their regular season encounters – the two sides split with Nepean FC taking the spoils 1-nil in Round 4 while Central Coast Mariners triumphed 2-nil when the reverse fixture happened at Pluim Park in which Nepean FC boss Tasses labelled it “their worst performance as they were outplayed.”
Central Coast Mariners secured their passage late in the season. Their late run helped them take fifth position from Marconi Stallions and make it back-to-back finals series where they hope to go one better than their losing Grand Final effort last year.
Central to that goal is their sharpshooter Danielle Wise. She battled hard for the Golden Boot throughout the season but ended up with 28 goals. Her partnership with Gabrielle Blanch will have to find a way past the dogged Nepean defense.
Dan Barrett’s young side will meet a mirror image of themselves in Nepean FC. Both sides work hard on their defensive structure so it might come down to some individual brilliance to breakdown either. For the yellow-and-navy, that could be Iona Snape, the youngster who burst onto the scene last year has a knack for goals and could be the difference.
Qualifying Final: Sutherland Shire FA vs Gladesville Ravens, Sunday August 11, 3:45pm, Valentine Sports Park #3
Let’s do it all again! After their meeting last weekend, Sutherland Shire FA takes on Gladesville Ravens in the Qualifying Final, Sunday afternoon at Valentine Sports Park.
Football throws up these scenarios sometimes where Sutherland Shire FA won 1-nil to snatch second spot and their reward is to face Gladesville Ravens again. This time it is to qualify to play APIA Leichhardt Tigers for a Grand Final spot.
Coming back into NPL2 after their relegation, Sutherland Shire FA set about their work quickly and established themselves as a top contender again. They missed out on the Premiership by two points and the rampaging form of APIA but are a quality well-drilled side that will challenge for the big prize at the end of the month.
This is a whole new world for Gladesville Ravens. A new fantastic point of view as they embark on a maiden finals series after the heartbreak of missing out by a single point in 2018. For a while they touched the heights of first but third with 16 wins is a wonderful achievement from the side.
Much like a midday movie on free-to-air TV, both regular season games followed the same plot. Gladesville Ravens were the dominant side in the contest but Sutherland Shire FA took the spoils 2-nil and 1-nil after the final whistle.
Sutherland Shire FA are battle tested by the finals crucible plus they have talisman Jordan Baker (29 goals) to lead the line. Alongside her, Ursula Bratjancsak and Morgan Maxwell roam down the flanks to provide Sutherland Shire FA the attacking thrust to make it three from three.
For Gladesville Ravens, they hope that the time is a charm. There are enough bullets in the chamber there with Emily Diaz, Annalise Schiraldi and Zoe Zaczek being supplied by Carlie Ikonomou and Yume Kashima to find the back of the net.
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)