Match of the Round
Merewether United vs. New Lambton
Sunday 10 March, 2.30pm
Round one of the Herald WPL kick-offs with competition favourites Merewether United and title contenders New Lambton going head-to-head to claim the first points for the 2019 season.
Merewether was the only side New Lambton didn’t beat in their maiden Herald WPL Season and after meeting five times, including the semi-finals, the Eagles should be familiar of United and their play. However, as this is a new season, the winner of this one could be anyone’s guess.
Beginning their championship-defence for a second straight year, Merewether’s coach Cassandra Koppen says her side will enter the match with confidence given their stellar 2018 season.
“We’ve got a really quality team and we’re hoping to make it three from three,” said Koppen.
“We haven’t got any particular tactics. They’ve [New Lambton] got a lot of experience in their side and lot of quality.
“I guess it will be a matter of closing them down early and making sure we keep our structure and keeping to our game plan.”
With New Lambton tipped to be title contenders this season, Koppen is aware and up for the challenge and said they “are the team to beat this year”.
New Lambton will enter their second season in the competition looking to make a strong start to their 2019 campaign and there’d be no better way to kick it off than with a victory over the back-to-back Grand Final winners.
Coach Keelan Hamilton says in terms of team expectations for round one, New Lambton will be looking to have a strong first hit out.
“While round one won’t define anything for our whole season, obviously we want to go and put on a good performance… and it’s a good opportunity to show that against the current champions in Merewether,” Hamilton said.
“They’ve [Merewether United] got experience across the pitch with many dangerous players, so we’ll have to be aware of everyone and make sure we’re well prepared to perform well on Sunday.
“Our opinion of Merewether is one of huge respect to what they’ve done. They’ve been hugely successful in the last few years and they’ve got a lot of experienced players.
“We’re just looking forward to round one… we’re ready to get down to business.”
Football Mid North Coast vs. South Wallsend
Sunday 10 March, 2.30pm
Taree Zone Field
Making their highly anticipated return to the competition, Football Mid North Coast will be looking to make their mark in the Herald WPL, however, will have no easy task when they face 2018 semi-finalists South Wallsend this Sunday at Taree Zone Field.
South Wallsend came within a whisker of qualifying for last year’s Grand Final, only narrowly going down to premiers Warners Bay, but they begin their 2019 campaign against a side they’ll know little about.
With a heavy focus on youth development throughout the club, Football Mid North Coast will be fielding one of the youngest the club has ever seen this season.
However, head coach Mick Grass is confident his side will showcase their abilities this Sunday, with their side boosted by some of their new talents in the likes of Sam Bestwick, Abbi Watson and Layni Fens.
“Despite their age, this team is extremely talented and if they can lift to meet the intensity of the competition, then I have no doubt they will feature strongly throughout the year,” said Grass.
Tipped for big things this season, the Wolfies are confident they’ll challenge some of the competitions powerhouses this season in the likes of Merewether United, Warners Bay and New Lambton.
Head Coach Cas Wright, though, says her side are wary of the challenge the Middies may provide as they enter the unknown this Sunday against the newcomers.
“I think Middies [Football Mid North Coast] are a new team and quite young I hear… so my expectations are just getting the girls to jump together and work collaboratively as a team to play good football,” Wright said.
“I’m not a tactical person, so we’ll just be playing good football with the girls passing well, moving well, getting into space and scoring goals, while at the same time not conceding.”
With strong Matildas and Westfield W-League experience in the squad including Gema Simon (current Newcastle Jets/Westfield Matilda), Kobie Ferguson (former Young Matilda/ Newcastle Jets), Ashlee Brodigan (former Young Matilda/ Newcastle Jets) and Kirstyn Pearce (former Newcastle Jets), South Wallsend is going to be another strong side to beat this season.
The question will be how well they gel together as a relatively new squad as the Mid North Coast have majority played together from the 20s division last season.
Warners Bay vs. Adamstown Rosebud
Sunday 10 March, 2.30pm
John Street Oval
Warners Bay will be looking to wrap-up their third-straight Premiership this year and will start the season with a home game advantage when they take on Adamstown Rosebud at John Street Oval.
Warners Bay will feature a similar side to last year with their star players returning from last season as well as promoting some of their younger players up, putting them in the ‘title contenders’ category once again.
Newcastle Jets W-League player and Warners Bay captain Cassidy Davies will be handing over coaching duties to Antonio Ambrogretti this season, allowing her to shift more of her focus on-field.
Adamstown, however, will be heading into the competition this season as underdogs, going through a rebuilding stage after losing some key, foundational players. Albeit, their strong determination to reach the top four proves that they won’t let any of the top sides get in their way.
Despite losing club captain Taya Gregory and captain of four years, Claire Cummings, vice-captain Maggie Quinn says her side are looking forward to the challenge of taking on competition heavyweights Warners Bay this Sunday.
“I just hope that we can all put up a strong front and we can all give Warners Bay a bit of a run for their money,” Quinn said.
“Obviously Cass [Davies] and Jenna [Kingsley] are phenomenal so we’re going to be watching them pretty closely and also Nadja [Squires] she’s defensively really good.
“We want to make top four so we’re going to try our absolute best. We’ve got a really good squad.”
This matchup will be interesting to see how the Rosebud girls will hold themselves against a strong Warners Bay outfit.
Wallsend vs. Thornton Redbacks
Sunday 10 March, 2.30pm
After an, unfortunately, untimely exit from the competition mid-way through last year, Thornton Redbacks are back in the Herald WPL competition and will head to Wallsend’s home turf at The Gardens for their return round one.
They won’t have an easy task though, as they come up against a strong Devils side who will be boosted by the likes of Westfield W-League player Libby Copus-Brown who had an outstanding season with the Newcastle Jets.
Thornton coach Alan Primmer says he understands this season is going to be difficult but believes his side is ready.
Thornton will look to their captain Anais Moore to lead them this season with Primmer also highlighting Lucinda Maddison, Celeste Ortega Edwards and Grace Harvey as ones to watch out for.
Primmer says Thornton has put in, “huge efforts to try and keep first-grade going” and will be a side not to underestimate this season.
On the other hand, Wallsend will be looking to crack the top four in the Herald WPL after narrowly missing out on finals in 2018.
Wallsend coach Brad Jones has produced a side that will feature a mix of promising young talent along with some of their more experienced players.
Sophie O’Brien will lead Wallsend’s side this season with the squad also boosted by the likes of Alesha Clifford, Olivia Kennedy, Kalya Pisani, Jess Axisa and Tayla Grant.