Newcastle Olympic v Broadmeadow Magic
Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility Field 3 – Sunday, 3pm
Newcastle Olympic can further cement its dominance over the Herald Women’s Premier League competition with a win over Broadmeadow Magic on Sunday which would see them move directly through to the grand final in a fortnight’s time at Adamstown Oval.
“As long as the girls can stay true to what we’ve worked on all year, that discipline, that patience, supporting each other and making sure everyone is just doing their job, I know and the girls know that we are way fitter than any other team,” Olympic coach Harmonie Attwill said.
“Anything can happen in final’s football. We’ve got to stay confident in our ability for that full 90 minutes.”
Olympic have been the competition’s trailblazers in season 2020, with the side officially laying hands on the premiership last weekend.
“After the weekend, it was a massive celebration for the girls and the club. The minor premiership wasn’t our focus but we were consistent throughout the year,” Attwill said.
“For the girls I really encouraged them to enjoy the achievement. They’ve been so consistent and have a never give up attitude.”
Stacey Day returned to the park on Sunday after suffering a knee injury earlier in the year, with a final decision on her inclusion in the side for the major semi-final to be made later in the week.
“At this point she’s had two training sessions and probably 20 minutes worth of game time, so I think it’s probably too early to decide. What’s best for her will be the decision we make,” Attwill said.
According to Attwill, her side will need to be clinical across the park if they are to knock over Magic and move directly through to the decider. The loser of Sunday’s game will play the winner of the minor semi-final.
“You can’t go past our defensive backline, Sophie O’brien, Danielle Nicol… in the midfield we’ve got Laura Hall, Keely Gawthrop and then up high we’ve got Jemma House,” she said.
“In terms of the quality across the park they’re all leaders by example and they love the challenge.”
Both the minor and major semi-finals will kick off at the same time of 3pm, with the Olympic-Magic clash to be played on the grass surface outside the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility on Field 3. Merewether will play Warners Bay on the synthetic No.1 pitch.
“Everyone’s excited about the weekend. I think everyone worries a little bit about stuff that’s out of your control,” Magic coach Jake Curley said.
“Our strategy doesn’t really change depending on who we play, we try and play the same way every time and most of the time it works for us.
“I think if you change your methodology then it creates too much confusion.”
Curley identified Kalista Hunter, Gemma Harrison and Kobie Ferguson as the women to watch against Olympic, with the Magic mentor full of praise for 21-year-old Ferguson.
“I think if those three play well it will go a long way to us winning. With Kobie I’ve coached some really good number 6s and she is by far my favourite number 6,” he said.
Curley said maintaining possession, keeping good defensive shape and people making the right decisions would decide whether his side moved directly through to the grand final.
Merewether United v Warners Bay
Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility Field 1 – Sunday, 3pm
There is no shortage of history between Merewether United and Warners Bay with another chapter in the rivalry to be written on Sunday.
The Llamas head into the clash having lost just two games this year, one of which was against the Panthers a fortnight ago.
“I don’t think [the loss against Warners Bay] is on anyone’s minds. We made a couple of mistakes and there were a couple of people out during that game,” Merewether coach Scott Ellis said.
“Given this team’s history of getting up for the big games pretty much everyone, including myself, have been eyes forward on the finals.”
Alison Logue looks set to return for the Llamas, who last weekend returned to the winner’s circle with a win over Thornton. Jamee Ellis also returned to the side.
“We should have everyone on deck. We’ve got a couple of niggly injuries which I’m hoping shouldn’t be an issue,” Ellis said.
Asked as to what a good Merewether performance would look like on Sunday, Ellis identified intensity as a key element to his side’s success.
“A good defensive performance on top of scoring some good goals. Just a really high intensity game with everyone really competing for everything,” Ellis said.
“The senior players can put a massive stamp on the game for the younger players. Having said that, our younger players have been remarkably consistent in what they deliver.
“I think in a lot of ways you’ve got to be wary of not doing too much as a coach when you get to this point of the year.”
Warners Bay are expected to be unchanged from the side who drew 3-3 with Adamstown Rosebud last weekend. The Panthers finished the regular season in fourth place with eight wins, one draw and five losses. All five losses came against the top three sides.
“This is what we play the whole season for, to make the semi-finals. These games are completely different,” Warners Bay coach Craig Atkins said.
“We’re just working on some basic things. We just want to get our first touch right and a few simple things like that and get our passing execution back-on-track.
“If we can do those right on that synthetic surface it should all click in.”
Last time the two sides met it was the Panthers who walked away with all three points, with the win headlined by another impressive performance by captain Elodie Dagg and a Jen Hoy hat-trick.
Hoy, who joined the club midway through the season, has proved an important boost for Warners Bay with 18 goals in 10 games. Annika D’Amico is the Panthers next best with five goals.
“Every time the ball goes near [Hoy] she’s a threat to any defence in the league. Jen is going to be dangerous, Elodie’s form over the past few weeks has been fantastic,” Atkins said.
“There’s that confidence there that we can beat them. Merewether take a lot of experienced heads into semi-finals but we’re confident we can turn up and put on a great performance.
“It comes down to a really strong start if we can come out of the blocks strong. That first 15 to 20 minute period will be crucial on Sunday.”