Competitions

Herald Women’s Premier League 2018 Season Review

August 31st, 2018

 LINDSAY GREEN

 

Warners Bay – PREMIERS

Yet another season of Warners Bay dominating the competition and with just one loss all year, it’s easy to see why they wrapped up their second-straight Premiership. At the start of the season, the Panthers unveiled a new and improved squad, with W-League player Tara Pender leading the way. Central midfielder Cassidy Davis would again take on the coaching role, an idea that saw many questioning whether the commitment would be too difficult. Davis has handled the extra responsibility with ease and some would even say having a player as a coach is an additional benefit. A 4-2 defeat at the hands of New Lambton in round 9 wouldn’t derail them, with the heavyweight’s remaining undefeated for the rest of the regular season. The Panthers have been fortunate on the injury front which has largely contributed to their success, playing a big role in their passage to the grand-final. After defeating South Wallsend 2-1 in the first week of the semi-finals, they were cruising comfortably but still had a difficult task ahead of them in week two. They survived an early scare to go down 1-0 but their aggregate goals were enough to seal the deal. They have had a consistent squad all season , but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to seal them the championship and they went down 4-3 for the second consecutive season to Merewether.

Merewether – Finished 2nd & CHAMPIONS

They say the hardest thing in sport is winning back-to-back titles and for Merewether, the challenge was made greater with the loss of Jane MacDonald and grand final hero Sarah Halvorsen pre-season. United coach Cassandra Koppen was left with another headache when Grace Macintyre was ruled out for the season after suffering an injury in their round two catch up game against Adamstown. Despite the cards being stacked against them, they continued to grind out results, with their first loss coming in round six against Warners Bay. The return of Melbourne City player Rhali Dobson added some much-needed strike-power to the line-up, while a dazzling period of form from Nicki Jones helped deliver in clutch moments. Inspirational captain Lori Depczynski lead the team through thick and thin, including losing Jamee Ellis for an extended period of time. The constant run of injuries allowed several young players valuable experience at top-level, which came in handy as the side were able to muster a 4-3 Grand Final victory over the premiers, Warners Bay, winning their second championship in as many years.

New Lambton – Finished 3rd

If winning back-to-back titles in is the hardest thing in sport, then surely winning in your inaugural year is second. The Eagles were the new kids on the block and had every armchair expert doubting their ability, questioning whether a new team could even be competitive. They had recruited well with key signings Joey Burgess, Tara Andrews and Stacey Day joining the squad, but the question still remained. Could they gel together and compete at the same level as the other five clubs in the top women’s football competition in Newcastle? Their season started on a positive note, with a 1-all draw against Wallsend who were shaping up to be premiership contenders at the time. The Eagles were dealt a reality shock in their round two catch up game against Warners Bay, suffering an 8-2 belting on a cold Wednesday night at John Street Oval. The loss appeared to be a wake-up call for the Alder Park Club, losing just three matches throughout the remainder of the season. For a team that is boasting youth and in their inaugural season, to only lost four matches and narrowly miss out on a spot in the grand final is a huge achievement and a credit to both the players and coaching staff for their work ethic. If they can retain most of their squad and attract more experience, they will be looking strong and difficult to beat next season.

South Wallsend – Finished 4th

The Wolves were tipped to have their most difficult season yet after losing seven key players including Stacey Day and Georgia Amess to other clubs. A sluggish start to the season involving an 8-1 defeat to Warners Bay followed by 5-1 and 6-0 losses to both New Lambton and Merewether had the Wolves shaking their heads and wondering what the rest of the season would bring. A season defining win over New Lambton in round 10 proved to be a turning point for the squad, with the 6-5 victory reinstating confidence at Walker Fields. What would follow was a strong finish to the regular season, coupled with the addition of speedy forward Sass Seaborn and W-League player Gema Simon, the Wolves were able to cement themselves five points clear on top of the ladder. A narrow 3-2 loss over the two legs of the semi-finals against Warners Bay was shattering for the greatly improved squad, but they proved they are capable of competing with the best in the competition. Nothing but positives for this energetic side heading into next season and with experienced coach Cas Wright leading the charge, they will likely go a step further.

Wallsend – Finished 5th

A season to forget for the Devil’s, finishing in the lower half of the competition but still challenging for a spot in the finals. The addition of Sass Seaborn, Georgia Minors and Danielle Redding to the squad breathed life into the squad after losing a several experienced players pre-season. A 3-2 victory over South Wallsend in round 7 appeared to have put the inexperienced side back in contention, but a lack of available players did them no favours, four losses in a row following their clash with the Wolves halted any momentum. Wallsend found themselves in a similar boat to Friendship Cup opponents Adamstown, with a mounting casualty ward and the loss of Sass Seaborn to cross-town rivals South Wallsend. Inexperience would prove the greatest challenge for the side, unable to win enough match-defining moments. The key now for the Devil’s will be to attract experienced players to The Gardens while continuing to develop the clubs junior base.

Adamstown – Finished 6th

After a strong hit-out last season, expectations were high for a youthful Adamstown team even despite losing club veteran Emily Frost in the off-season. The Rosebuds started the season on a high, with round 2 playing out as an enthralling battle against competition heavyweights Warners Bay. The season looked promising for the Buds and speculation began about whether new coach Paul Devitis could take them all the way. However, multiple injuries to key players meant they were struggling to field a starting 11 and lost their next five matches. The young squad still battled every week and pushed some of the competition’s finest right to the final whistle, almost booking a spot in the finals. Next year looks promising for the Buds, with the prospect of strike-weapon Lauren Allan returning to Adamstown Oval for the entire season. If the club can attract a number of other high calibre signings, along with continuing to nurture young talent, they may once again assert themselves as front runners for 2019.

Related Topics:
Herald WPL Premier Competitions

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