Maitland FC have won the 2021 Women’s State Cup in convincing fashion with a 3-1 win over Newcastle Olympic in the final on Sunday.
It was a strong weekend showing from the Magpies which culminated in a two-goal victory over the Herald Women’s Premier League leaders in the decider.
There were chances aplenty at both ends early with the physicality of the three-day tournament failing to show on the faces of either side.
Maitland was first to find the scoresheet with the Magpies awarded a penalty after a handball close to goal. Sophie Stapleford made no mistake from the spot.
The Magpies doubled their advantage less than 10 minutes later thanks to a fierce Kaitlin Radstaak volley from a corner, giving Maitland a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Olympic clawed a goal back not long after the break thanks to Jemma House. Last year’s golden boot winner was the recipient of a Georgia Little cross, with House’s touch enough to squeeze through the final line of Maitland defence.
Stapleford then brought the crowd to its feet with a stunning left foot strike to extend the Magpies ascendancy. Stapleford, who was a key signing for Maitland coach Keelan Hamilton, found herself on the receiving end of a clearing kick from goalkeeper Imogene Tomasone before calmly guiding the ball past the Olympic keeper.
“We are extremely happy to win the cup. For the club to win its first trophy in its first season of existence is a huge achievement,” Hamilton said.
“It is not noted or recognised enough how far this group have come in such a short space of time. We are huge underdogs, yet we have a trophy in the cabinet.”
It was not all good news for the Magpies who lost Maddison Gallegos midway through the first half of the final to a hamstring injury.
The Magpies finished top of group B despite a loss to North Coast Football in their second match on Saturday, having beaten fellow WPL club New Lambton 2-0 in their opener on Friday night. They later edged out Broadmeadow Magic 5-3 on penalties in their semi-final on Sunday morning.
In the Community Plate, Nelson Bay FC edged out the visiting Kempsey FC 1-0. Kaylah Pisani scored the Port Stephens side’s only goal, which came late in the first half.
With all eight Herald Women’s Premier League teams featuring as part of the tournament, the weekend presented an opportunity to blood the next generation.
Mid Coast were unlucky not to qualify for the semi-finals having not lost a game in the pool stage, with coach Mick Grass disappointed his side did not have an opportunity to go on with the show.
“I thought we improved throughout the first day and probably started to see what the future could be like with this group of young players,” he said.
Broadmeadow Magic progressed to the semi-finals from group A before they were later beaten by eventual winners Maitland on penalties.
“By all accounts the under-17s girls, particularly Jade Graham and Sunny Mitchell, were really good over the two days,” Magic coach Jake Curley said.
“I think it is a valuable experience for those girls as we want these girls to move into the senior squad next year.”
It was a similar story for Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins with the experience a positive one for the Panthers’ next generation.
“I thought that the squad we had performed well. It was a great experience for the younger girls. They stepped up and enjoyed their football,” Atkins said.
That sentiment was shared by New Lambton coach Maddy Searl.
“We were very impressed with our youth players’ performance,” Searl said.
“They really stood up and did not look out of place. It was a great opportunity for the whole squad to have some fun and score some goals.”
Adamstown coach Ryan Campbell went into the weekend with his eyes on the silverware, though was left to lament patches of poor play.
“I thought we were excellent on Friday against Warners Bay. It was the best 25 minutes of football we have played this year,” he said.
“I was quite disappointed with our performance in the semi-final, however there was some good individual performances.”