PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Merewether 4 (Tayla Braithwaite, Sarah Halvorsen 3) defeated Warners Bay 3 (Jenn Kingsley 3) at Jack McLaughlan Oval on Sunday. Half-time: Warners Bay led 3-1.
Merewether coach Cassie Koppen credited “doing it for each other” for their entertaining come-from-behind 4-3 win over premiers Warners Bay to seal the 2017 championship.
Only one point separated them in the race for the premiership and there was just one goal in each of their previous three encounters this season.
But it looked the scoreline could be much wider when Warners Bay led 3-1 at half-time after Westfield W-League striker Jenna Kingsley scored a hat-trick in the first half.
The Panthers held a 2-0 lead after Kingsley scored in the 12th and 40th minutes.
The first goal came when defender Brooke Miller sent the ball long and Kingsley sped through the United backline then had just goalkeeper Alison Logue to beat.
The second was well-crafted by Warners Bay. Captain Nadja Squires made a break up the middle of the park, passed wide to Sass Seaborn, who touched back into Cassidy Davis to Kingsley, who this time chipped Logue.
Merewether closed the gap to 2-1 when Grace Macintyre drove into the 18-yard box and crossed into the goalmouth for Tayla Braithwaite to score with the outside of her foot in the 42nd minute.
Kingsley had Warners Bay back in a good position going into the break after she scored again in the 45th minute, this time being on the spot to score from close range into an open goal after Squires’s shot bounced through Logue’s legs.
United came out fired up from the break and started to dominate the second half, which belonged to speedster Sarah Halvorsen.
The towering attacker scored three goals in 17 minutes to seal the championship for Merewether.
Halvorsen scored in the 66th, 76th and 83rd minutes. All three goals came from her streaking unmarked into the box.
“In the first half we didn’t actually play poorly but it was just critical moments where we lapsed a bit of concentration and probably failed to stick to our role and they capitalised on it,” Koppen said.
“I thought we held possession well, we probably were the more dominant team in the first half and we probably didn’t deserve to be 3-1 down. I don’t think the scoreline at half-time reflected how the game was actually played.
“At halftime, we said, ‘We’ve scored six and seven goals in a half before, we only need three to win’ and we did.
“The girls love playing for each other and they love playing in this team, that’s something we really spoke about before the game and again at half-time, just doing it for each other and that’s was probably our strongest point.”
Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis was obviously disappointed to give up the championship.
“We wanted to go at them and get in their face and I think we did that well but then we just lacked a bit of energy in the second half,” Davis said.
“They’re a team that is going to come at you and I think the girls’ legs got a bit tired.
“But I’m still proud of the girls. Getting the minor premiership is a massive thing and to have a close game in the grand final, I can’t really be too upset. It’s been a good season.”
In the 18s decider Thornton beat Adamstown 2-0, Mid North Coast defeated South Wallsend 1-0 in the 16s Grand Final and Rosebud claimed the 14s championship with a 1-0 win over Wallsend.