VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Merewether United 4 (Leah Giuffre x2, Rhali Dobson x2) defeated Warners Bay Panthers 3 (Nadja Squires x2, Jenna Kingsley) at Rockwell Automation Park on Sunday, 26th August.
Half-time: Merewether led 3-1.
Merewether have claimed back-to-back championships with a clinical 4-3 victory over rivals Warners Bay in slippery conditions at Weston on Sunday afternoon.
The game had barely started when the Panthers opened the scoring through Nadja Squires, who found the back of the net after her corner sailed past United keeper Alison Logue and into the top right corner.
United answered ten minutes later when Jamee Ellis crossed into the box and found an unmarked Leah Giuffre who headed it home.
Five minutes later, Nicki Jones’ pinpoint pass landed at the feet of strike weapon Rhali Dobson, who beat three defenders to hammer it past keeper Maddison Latter and into the left corner.
Dobson completed her first half brace when she capitalised on a defensive error and chipped Latter for a 3-1 lead heading into the break.
It may have seemed dire for the Bay heading into the sheds, but, given Merewether came back from 3-1 down in last year’s grand-final, anything was possible.
Giuffre completed her match double after a neat volley from Tamara Nash landed perfectly on her boot and she put it away to extend United’s lead.
With less than twenty minutes to go, Lori Depczynski was deemed to have fouled Jenna Kingsley in the box. Captain Nadja Squires made no mistake, stepping up to the dot and converting it perfectly.
A cracking long-range ball from Holly Ayton found Kingsley, who slotted it across the goal mouth and into the back of the net, but, it was a case of too little too late for the Bay.
Panthers defender Sian Keating was arguably the best on the park for her side, no doubt stating her case for a starting spot in first-grade next season. Sophie Stapleford looked dangerous on the wing and was unlucky not to grab a goal herself.
United’s captain Depczynski let her experience shine through and was instrumental in her sides defence, eliminating any clear-cut chances from Warners Bay. Fleet-footed winger Rhali Dobson wreaked havoc on the park and caused all sorts of headaches whenever she was involved in the run of play.
Merewether coach Cassandra Koppen said to win back-to-back championships was a great feeling, especially after the disruption of injuries and player unavailability throughout the regular season.
“We are absolutely stoked and the girls deserve it because they have been through a lot this year,” Koppen said.
“We have been one of the most consistent teams over the last three or four years so to win our third championship is a great feeling.
“When we were 3-1 up at halftime, I just reminded the girls that it only took us twenty minutes and three goals to turn it around and win 4-3 last year.
“We know how elated we were last year when we produced that comeback, so we wanted to make sure we weren’t on the receiving end.
“I’m incredibly proud of how far we have come as a team and their hard work was definitely rewarded.”
Warners Bay player-coach Cassidy Davis said it was disappointing to lose but the courage they showed to fight back was pleasing.
“I honestly thought if we had another five minutes, we would have pushed for an equaliser but that’s football,” Davis said.
“It was a shame to lose Corinne so early and to already have Tara out was a big loss as well which made it difficult for us.
“Seeing our two under 20’s players perform so well when they had just played 90 minutes was outstanding and I’m so proud of them.
“If you don’t take your chances then you can’t win which was the case for us yesterday but we are all really proud of ourselves and the season we have had.”
U20’s, 17’s, 14’s Results:
20s: Warners Bay 1 beat Football Mid North Coast 0.
17s: Thornton 2 beat Wallsend 0.
14s: FootballMid North Coast 1 beat Merewether 0.