Newcastle Olympic 2-1 Broadmeadow Magic
Newcastle Olympic are the first team through to the Herald Women’s Premier League grand final after a thrilling 2-1 extra-time win over Broadmeadow Magic on Sunday.
Locked at 1-1 at the end of regular time, the game looked destined for a penalty shootout as both teams tired in the warm conditions at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 108th minute, thanks to a penalty scored by Stacey Day.
Having suffered a knee-injury earlier in the year, Day made a surprise return for Olympic last weekend against New Lambton, with coach Harmonie Attwill injecting the former W-League and WPL championship winner into the game late in regular time.
Day’s extra-time goal was enough for Olympic to move through to the decider, with Attwill impressed by her side’s determination despite the at times torrid conditions.
“It was definitely a very nerve-racking game. We knew that it would be a challenge, we knew that finals football it really doesn’t matter what happens during the regular season, it is a different game,” she said.
“We had a job to do. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy but we knew with discipline and patience that it would hopefully come together in the end.”
Brooke Summers opened the scoring for Olympic, who held the advantage for the majority of the first half.
Broadmeadow’s equalizer came via the boot of Lucy Jerram about 15 minutes before the break, with the scores locked at 1-1 for the remainder of regular time.
The late match-winner handed Newcastle Olympic a week off with their focus now turned to the grand final at Adamstown Oval on 18 October.
“We’ve definitely got momentum. We’ve built those match minutes. After that extra-time the girls will be looking forward to a week off,” Attwill said.
“We definitely won it through that grit and determination. We’ll probably just sit back and enjoy this win, that was a really hard match and credit to the girls, they did everything in their power to win it.”
Broadmeadow Magic now face Warners Bay in the preliminary final.
“We were really good. We had lots of chances and just couldn’t finish. It is what it is, we play Warners Bay next week,” Broadmeadow coach Jake Curley said.
“I was really happy with how we played. There was no complaints from me. [Olympic] probably had three chances in the whole game, one is a penalty and I think we hit the post five times.”
Magic and Warners Bay have met twice this season, with the women in red victorious on both occasions. But, according to Curley, he will not read too much into his opposition.
“We just play the same way [against Warners Bay next weekend]. If we worry about other teams too much then you can become confused,” Curley said.
“We’ll just play our way and see what happens.”
Merewether United 2-6 Warners Bay
Warners Bay survived to fight another week after a thumping 6-2 win over Merewether United in the Herald Women’s Premier League minor semi-final.
The Panthers now face Broadmeadow Magic in the preliminary final, with the winner to play Newcastle Olympic in the grand final.
On a day where temperatures hit almost 30 degrees, it was the Panthers who opened the scoring through an impressive piece of combination play from Annika D’Amico and goal scorer Jen Hoy.
Hoy’s goal was a taste of things to come for Warners Bay, as D’Amico added her name to the scoresheet. The Panthers second-highest goal scorer, only behind Hoy, was again in the action minutes later as Warners Bay extended the margin to three.
Having gone into the finals series as the lowest-ranked qualifier, Warners Bay proved they were not to be taken lightly against the highly-rated Merewether. The Panthers were again celebrating on the stroke of half-time as Hoy made it 4-0. Her goal set up by a pinpoint through-ball by Georgia Cook.
Hoy and D’Amico both sealed hat-tricks in the second half as the Panthers cruised towards a match-up with Broadmeadow next weekend.
Late goals to Merewether’s Ellie Withers and Tamara Nash were never going to be enough for the Llamas, who just a few short weeks ago seemed destined to play deep into finals football.
Having mid-week called on his side to deliver a strong start, Panthers coach Craig Atkins praised his team for playing beautiful football in the convincing win.
“We were confident after the last time we played them and the girls executed the game plan down to a tee. In these hot conditions I thought we moved Merewether around very well and our finishing was clinical,” Atkins said.
“We worked a lot on first touch through the week and that composure on the ball. We had a few nervous moments early but I thought once the girls got it on the deck, they looked very good.”
Next weekend’s clash with Magic sets up as one not to be missed, with both sides aware of the attacking prowess on the opposite side of the park.
“We’ve got to turn up [against Magic] and put in a performance like this again. It’s going to be massive next week,” Atkins said.
The loss ended a dramatic year for Merewether, with coach Scott Ellis describing the game as “probably the weirdest game I think I’ve coached.”
“We had good possession, we drove through the centre of the park really well, we got into shooting positions, we took shots, we drove the ball down the keeper’s throat I don’t know how many times,” Ellis said.
“There was a lot that I liked about that performance. It was a really disappointing way to end the season but Warners Bay deserved it. If you don’t take your chances you’re going to pay.
“I can’t fault the girls’ effort, we kept playing right till the end. We got two goals right towards the end, we rearranged things to try and have some impact. The second half ended up being 2-2.
“This is a fantastic group to coach, they’re a fantastic group of women. Some incredibly skilled and smart players in the side.”