Gladesville Ravens captain Ashleigh Smith hopes the long, winding road of the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens competition ends with Grand Final glory on Sunday night.
The veteran defender admitted the Ravens had gone the long way around for their fixture against APIA Leichhardt Tigers but remains confident in their chances against the Premiers.
“We’ve gone the longest way possible to get to the finals. The girls have had every up-and-down imaginable this season and we’re ready to go once more against APIA Leichhardt Tigers,” said Smith.
2019 has been a rollercoaster for the Ravens as it built off the structure set in 2018 where the side missed the finals by a single point, now they’re 90 minutes from glory.
That rollercoaster was evident in their Preliminary Final victory which featured a ten-minute burst where four goals were scored but Gladesville Ravens triumphed 4-3 with Smith swept home the second goal.
The feature of their form this season is their defence.
Gladesville were the second tightest defense in NPL 2 NSW Womens competition, conceding 18 goals all season only behind this weekend’s opponents APIA.
Smith credit a lot of that to their goalkeeper Eri Arikawa.
“I wouldn’t be able to do my job without her behind me. Eri is a pillar of the side and makes things much easier.”
Back to her own form Smith puts it down to “a lot of yelling on my part combined with hard work from the defensive line. I couldn’t ask for a better five girls to play with.”
Moving onto the prospect of the Grand Final – Smith was confident in her side’s chances to take down the swashbuckling APIA side Sunday night.
“We’re the only team to take three points off APIA this season. Their coach reminded us back in Round 1 that it wasn’t the Grand Final. Now, this is it, we are there and looking to win.”
There have been some fond memories for Smith in Grand Finals against APIA.
“I played in a reserve grade Grand Final against APIA six years ago and we beat them. So, hopefully there will be a similar result on Sunday night.” she finished.
The National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens Grand Final co-headlines a Festival of Women’s Football on Sunday afternoon with finals starting from 8:30am to the main event at 5:15pm.
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)