NOTE: no cash purchases of tickets will be accepted on the day at the venue.
The first ever Sapphire Cup Final will take place this Sunday at Leichhardt Oval at 12pm as APIA Leichhardt host the Northern Tigers.
A fantastic initiative by Football NSW has seen this new women’s knockout cup competition combine association teams with Football NSW League One and National Premier Leagues NSW sides to compete against each other.
APIA and the Tigers have both won four matches each to book their place at this stage of the tournament.
The newly crowned Premiers booked their place in the finals after first defeating East Gosford FC in Round Three 12-1, they then beat fellow NPL NSW side Blacktown Spartans 4-0, before getting the job done over Football NSW League One side Mt Druitt Town Rangers, 4-2.
They faced a tough task in the semi-final against Sydney University but dealt with the Students comfortably at Lambert Park with a 3-0 victory.
NPL NSW Women’s Golden Boot winner Ash Crofts leads the team’s scoring charts in the Cup also, scoring five goals in four games.
The attacking power that APIA possess is frightening, along with Crofts, captain Rhianna Pollicina not only scores but is the team’s most creative player and the pace of Holly McNamara will be difficult to deal with for the Northern Tigers.
It’s been a tough season for the Northern Tigers in terms of their personnel, but coach Jake Stephenson has used that to blood some youngsters into the first team.
Their run to the final has also been more difficult than that of their opponents, first dispatching of Sutherland Shire 2-0, then a tough 2-1 away win over Bankstown City Lions, before another difficult trip on the road where one-goal was enough to defeat the Central Coast Mariners.
They showed real strength in their semi-final, coming away with a convincing 4-0 victory over the Gladesville Ravens to book their finals berth.
Led by charismatic captain Hannah McNulty, the Tigers have a real leader pushing the team forward and giving them belief.
Lily McMahon leads the team’s scoring charts in the cup with three goals, with the ever-present Claudia Cholakian banking two goals.
The teams have met twice this season with APIA coming away with wins in both matches, the Tigers unable to lay a glove on the NPL NSW Premiers.
In match one back in May, APIA won at Lambert Park 3-0 with Rhianna Pollicina, Gisella Pipino and Holly McNamara all getting on the scoresheet.
The second game was played only a couple weeks ago and again APIA came away with the spoils, this time away from home with Ash Crofts and Pollicina on target.
It should be noted that the Tigers were reduced to 10 with Isabel Gomez sent off in that one.
Which way will the first ever Sapphire Cup go, tune in to NPL.TV to find out or make your way down to Leichhardt Oval for what promises to be a spectacle.
APIA ROAD TO FINAL
Round 1 v East Gosford – 12-1
Round 2 v Blacktown Spartans – 4-0
Round 3 v Mt Druitt Town Rangers – 4-2
Semi- Final v Sydney University – 3-0
NORTHERN TIGERS ROAD TO FINAL
Round 1 v Sutherland Shire – 2-0
Round 2 v Bankstown City – 2-1
Round 3 v Central Coast Mariners – 1-0
Semi-Final v Gladesville Ravens – 4-0
Sunday 10th September
By Nikola Pozder