(Winners progress to Grand Final)
Adamstown v Valentine
(Second v Third)
Saturday, August 15
3pm at Thornton Park
Head-to-head this season: Played three times. Adamstown won 4-0 in Round 1 and 3-1 in Round 8; Valentine won 2-0 in Round 15
Adamstown’s past five results (from most recent): Beat South Wallsend 2-1; drew 0-0 with Thornton; lost 3-1 to Wallsend; beat Merewether 3-1; beat Mid North Coast 2-1
Valentine’s past five results (from most recent): Drew 3-3 with Thornton; lost 2-0 to Merewether; beat Warners Bay 4-3; beat Wallsend 8-2; beat South Wallsend 4-1
Valentine will field a full fresh squad for the first time in eight weeks and Coach Cas Wright has tinkered with her starting side to ensure Phoenix can capitalise on the skills and experience of elite players Hannah Brewer, Cassidy Davis, Gemma Pearce and Maddy Searl.
Adamstown go into the finals without eight players from their original first-grade squad this year. They have lost three players to season-ending injuries, including goalkeeper Bec Miller, two American imports have returned home and Lauren Allen, who scored nearly half of Adamstown’s goals this season, and Marley Harrison have gone to the United States to play college football. Emily Bouwhuis is unavailable due to work commitments. They do however get back midfielder Mikaela Howell from injury. She has been out for the past four or five weeks but will add some panache to the young side.
What the coaches said
“It is going to be a massive effort, we know that. But we’ve got nothing to lose, the same as Valentine, and I think it will be a close game. I think it’s going to be a battle of the midfield.” – Adamstown coach John Jiggins
“Even though Adamstown have lost a few of their best players, they still should provide some challenges for our girls. They always put in everything, and we need to do the same if we are to progress to the grand final.” – Phoenix coach Cas Wright
Valentine are regarded as the best team on paper in the league but results have not always reflected that this season. They have plenty of danger players, including the competition’s most prolific scorer Cassidy Davis, and boast the league’s best attacking record. They have scored 70 goals at an average of three per match. The only problem is they have the worst defensive record of the top four – they have leaked 48 goals for an average of two per game. Adamstown are like The Little Engine That Could – they seem to be dropping players left, right and centre but just keep on keeping on. Led by inspirational captain and playmaker Clare Cummings they will fight for each other until the final whistle goes. Valentine carry the favourites tag into this one but there will not be much between these two sides and the result could go either way. It is going to come down to who takes their chances and stays switched on defensively.
Merewether v Mid North Coast
(First v Fourth)
Sunday, August 16
3pm at Adamstown No.1 Oval
Head-to-head this season: Played three times. Merewether won 2-0 in Round 1 and 4-0 in Round 8; 2-2 draw last weekend
Merewether’s past five results (from most recent): Beat Wallsend 2-1; drew 2-2 with Mid North Coast; beat Valentine 2-0; lost 3-1 to Adamstown; beat Warners Bay 5-1
Mid North Coast’s past five results (from most recent): Beat Warners Bay 2-1; drew 2-2 with Merewether; lost 2-0 to Thornton; beat South Wallsend 4-1; lost 2-1 to Adamstown
Merewether coach Cassie Koppen had the luxury of being able to rest and rotate her players through a weekend double-header last weekend. Captain Lori Depczysnki has missed the past few matches due to injury but will be back this weekend along with Sophie Jones. Sarah Halvorsen is carrying an Achilles complaint and is the only player in doubt, otherwise the Premiers should be at full strength.
Mid North Coast. Rock-solid defender Jannah Gillett is the only Mid North Coast player in doubt. Gillett sustained a bad knee injury last weekend and is unlikely to be able to take the field this weekend.
What the coaches said
“We know they will probably come out at quite a fast pace and they will try to play a good brand of football. We have to apply a lot of pressure early and score as early as possible. We’ve confidently disposed of them a couple of times now but that can be a bit of a danger for us mentally. In finals times it is probably 5-10% physical and the rest is mental, and we’ve spoken about that and how we need to step up now.” – Merewether coach Cassie Koppen
“We have got nothing to lose, so it’s theirs to lose and ours to win. We’ll be taking it to them.” – Mid North Coast coach Matt Baker
Merewether have cruised through most of the season virtually untouched on their way to claiming the Herald WPL Premiership for the first time. They have the equal-best defensive record of the league, with Adamstown, and are solid across the park. They have scored plenty of goals and have several players who are potent in front of goal but have at times been guilty of not always being ruthless upfront. They have loads of experience and will be well led by senior players Jamee Ellis, Jane McDonald and Lori Depczysnki. Mid North Coast made an indifferent start to the season and coach Matt Baker sounded like a broken record as he lamented the fact they were struggling to put together a strong 90-minute performance. But they started to hit their straps around the midway point of the season and have not looked back. They are gutsy and gritty and play a nice passing game. They will take a lot of confidence out of a 2-2 draw with Merewether last weekend and the longer the game goes on without a goal Mid North Coast’s chances of victory will increase. Merewether have favouritism but Mid North Coast cannot be discounted.