It has been a dozen weeks of furious action and we have our Grand Final set.
That will be a clash of the undefeated sides as North Shore Mariners and Marconi Stallions won their way to the decider in two hotly contested semi-finals.
Let’s get onto the review.
Semi Final 1: North Shore Mariners 4 defeated Central Coast Mariners 1
It was a stroll in the park for North Shore Mariners as they triumphed 4-1 against rivals Central Coast Mariners in the first semi-final at Northbridge Oval Sunday afternoon.
Rita Boateng produced a masterful performance with her first half hat-trick alongside a goal from sharpshooter Evelyn Chronis to put the contest to bed for North Shore Mariners before the half-time whistle. Whilst 2020 has been a tough year, North Shore Mariners have plenty to be proud of including both their Reserve and First Grade sides in the Grand Final.
Whilst it wasn’t the result Central Coast Mariners or Dan Barrett wanted. The visitors scored the only goal of the second half through Mikala Tucker. Central Coast won’t look back in anger after another finals appearance and plenty of experience for next year.
Under the blistering sun, the game started at a frisky pace. Central Coast Mariners had the first pair of chances through the set piece. Annalise Rasmussen delivered twice, once which was flayed wide then Rasmussen flicked the bar.
Next it was the North Shore side to have a chance from the set piece. Siahn Bozanic delivered from the right but bent her effort the wrong side of the post, as the game started to match the temperature in Sydney this weekend.
Chances might have been restricted to set pieces early but some dazzling play from Rita Boateng unlocked the Central Coast defense. Boateng glided between two defenders before she touched home for 1-nil.
North Shore Mariners made it double delight in the 26th minute. Rochelle Johnson, a consistent performer out wide for the Mariners angled the ball into the path of Evelyn Chronis to make it 2-nil in the blink of an eye.
Now they had stamped their mark on the contest. North Shore kept up the pressure and Elizabeth Grey was next to challenge when she craned a header wide. Central Coast Mariners tried to respond but Elizabeth Shorter fizzed high.
Boateng has found her footing in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens competition and put on a show in the remainder of the first half. She outpaced her defender to make it 3-nil then completed the hat-trick before the break, making it a commanding 4-nil lead for North Shore.
The score line might have been out of their reach but Central Coast Mariners came out of the sheds after half-time with a renewed vigor. They monopolised the possession and Rasmussen again fired over from a free-kick.
Rasmussen streamed forward again and struck the crossbar as Central Coast Mariners looked to find some consolation in the contest. Rasmussen and Iona Snape looked the brightest for the visitors in the second half.
Whilst it wasn’t the proliferation of chances that North Shore Mariners enjoyed in the first half, the home side’s best chance fell to Chronis on the hour mark. Chronis juggled well but couldn’t find the mark with her shot.
There was some consolation for Central Coast Mariners late in the contest. Snape broke through the middle of the North Shore defense, weaved past defenders then threaded through Mikala Tucker to make it 4-1.
After the hot conditions had sapped the energy of both sides, North Shore Mariners saw out the remainder of the contest and booked their spot in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens Grand Final.
Post-match a jubilant North Shore Mariners head coach Grant Lee praised the first half from his side and relished the challenge of next weekend which gives them the chance to finish 2020 on a high:
“The girls knew what they had to do and some individual brilliance from Rita Boateng getting a hat-trick in the first half saw us through. I’m happy where we are headed into next week. It’s been a tough season with a bare squad but it is nice to have both Reserve Grade and Firsts into the final.” said Lee.
“Despite this pandemic that is something positive to come out of the season. Last season was tough both physically and mentally for the girls but the younger girls have learnt from the experience in the side and hopefully we can sustain this.” finished Lee.
Central Coast Mariners coach Dan Barrett remained upbeat despite the result and remarked on the successful campaign from his side after bowing out at the semi-final stage:
“North Shore showed their class today and why they finished top of the competition. We got done by four incidents in the first half which North Shore finished. I am proud of the girls despite that and won the second half 1-nil.” said Barrett.
“We lost a lot of players through the season. The squad which played today was quite different from the one which started the season. We got to give some younger girls some experience and we can hold our heads high.” finished Barrett.
Sunday October 4 2020
Northbridge Oval, Northbridge
Referee: M. Allum
Assistant Referees: A. Morris & L. Hockings
North Shore Mariners 4 (Boateng 3, Chronis)
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Tucker)
North Shore Mariners: 1. BURKE Trudy, 2. PIRIZ Sara, 6. MIRKOVIC Madeleine (25. GYZEN ‘81), 8. CHRONIS Evelyn, 11. BOATENG Rita (10. MARZANO ‘63), 13. DI SCIASCIO Erica, 14. BOZANIC Siahn, 15. GREY Elizabeth, 22. CAMPBELL Caitlin (5. EVANS ‘45), 34. JOHNSON Rochelle, 35. CLOUT Tessa
Unused subs: 31. CROUCH Jasmine
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil
Central Coast Mariners: 2. BLANCH Gabrielle, 3. TUCKER Mikala, 4. SNAPE Iona, 5. BLACKWOOD Betsy, 6. BAINSFAIR Kiera, 9. RASMUSSEN Annalise, 11. SHORTER Elizabeth, 12. MURPHY Kaitlin, 13. GARRETT Jessica, 16. SQUIRES Kirby (10. MCATEMNEY ‘65), 20. HINES Rhiannon
Unused subs: 1. O’BRIEN Kyara, 23. DRYSDALE Jordyn, 26. McFarlane Mia, 32. VAN DIJK Maddison
Yellow cards: Snape
Red cards: nil
Semi-Final 2: Sutherland Shire FA 0 defeated by Marconi Stallions 1
Marconi Stallions were the first side to book their spot in the NPL2 Womens Grand Final after they edged a tense affair 1-nil against Sutherland Shire FA at Harrie Denning Centre.
The only goal came from a first half header from Samantha Hunyh. The corner was well worked and was enough for Marconi Stallions to both keep their undefeated streak alive and book a Grand Final date with North Shore Mariners.
Sutherland Shire FA unfortunately fall one game short of the decider again but can also hold their head high after a terrific season. Sutherland Shire FA dominated the second half but was unable to breakdown the Stallions defense.
Coming off a break, Sutherland Shire FA looked refreshed and almost broke through in the opening minute of the game. Janan Codmani cushioned the ball to Ursula Bratjanscak who was denied smartly by Stallions custodian Renee Krstanovska.
The chances kept flowing for Sutherland Shire FA. Bratjanscak rifled one into the side netting then it was quickly followed by an Isabella Georgievski header that flashed wide of the post.
Marconi Stallions shook off their nerves and got themselves a foothold in the contest. Tania Baban had a range finder from distance which was held by Sutherland Shire FA shot stopper Chloe Avgoustou. Baban again latched onto a ball from Lauren Featherstone but Avgoustou stood tall again.
Despite the hot conditions, the game continued to ebb and flow with chances at both ends of the pitch. Jordan Baker timed her run perfectly to peel off a defender and fired a right foot shot that Krstanovska repelled well.
Buoyed by the work of their custodian, Marconi Stallions took the lead midway through the first half of the game. It came from a corner won by Baban. It was swung deep for Samantha Huynh to thump home for 1-nil.
Whilst Sutherland Shire FA went behind they continued to have the most of the chances. There were more crosses than the nightly news from the home side. Most of them fell to the path of Baker or Stevie Donougher but the half-time saw Marconi ahead 1-nil.
The sun started to set in the second half but Sutherland Shire FA hoped that wasn’t a metaphor for the end of their season again in the penultimate game. Bratjanscak had Sutherland Shire FA’s best chance but flung it right at Krstanovska.
As Sutherland Shire FA had to push forward, it left room for Marconi Stallions to hit on the break. Danielle Bishop and Pene Bonovas had chances to put the contest to bed but the shot fizzed them over the bar.
The clock ticked into the dying embers. Sutherland Shire FA had one final free-kick to salvage their season and take the contest into extra-time. Nicole Besz curled the ball right to the penalty spot to the person you want, Jordan Baker, but her header was wide.
Marconi Stallions got some sweet relief soon after from the full-time whistle and were the first side to book their spot in the Grand Final in 2020. Afterwards Marconi coach Andy Severin praised the structure of his side and their work. Now they face a tough test against fellow undefeated side North Shore Mariners.
Big thanks to Justin Smith (@SmithTheJustin) for his work covering the contest. Make sure to give the NPL4 review a read!
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)