29 August , 2018 By Football NSW
It’s time for the big dance! The final two teams left in NPL2 Womens clash, as Premiers Sydney Olympic FC look to avenge their loss last year against fellow heavyweight, Central Coast Mariners Sunday evening at Valentine Sports Park.
Grand Final: Sydney Olympic FC vs Central Coast Mariners, Sunday 2 September, 5:15pm, Valentine Sports Park #1
In the left corner, we have Sydney Olympic FC. The back-to-back premiers has swept all eleven sides aside across the season, including a dynamic 5-2 success against Central Coast back in round six, in the middle of their long unbeaten streak.
Much of the success for the Olympic side came from their prolific front three. Lieke De Bever topped the charts for the side with a phenomenal 38 goals in the season, with some assistance from last year’s golden boot, Madelaine Costanzo and the talismanic Danielle Calvi.
Olympic will be seeking the one thing they have been failing to achieve within recent times, despite their burgeoning cabinet the illusive Championship trophy is yet to be obtained by the side. They were pipped 1-nil against Bankstown City last year, but are now back with vengeance to whisk themselves off to NPL1 with the cpmpleted set.
Add to that the return of Kalista Tsoupis, who retired last season after their Grand Final defeat. She has helped to defensively solidify the Olympic FC backline. Although Amanda Horafios may be in for a busy afternoon, having pulled off some superb saves this season.
Player to watch: It might be simplistic to single out De Bever but the striker has been the heartbeat of the Sydney Olympic FC side. Scoring 38 goals is an impressive feat and the attacker has all the qualities to succeed at higher levels, including impressive speed and shot that makes her the key target for Mariners to subdue.
Swinging over the right corner of the battle. Here lies Central Coast Mariners, they have battled through the crucible of the NPL2 finals series – beating both APIA Leichhardt Tigers and SD Raiders (who triumphed 2-1 in the first weekend of the finals) to get to this weekend.
Coach Dan Barrett has been quietly confident throughout the season in his squad. They responded well to that with score lines of 10 and eight in the first five weeks, that fired them to a top two spot where the Mariners remained the rest of the season as the yellow and navy picked up the scalp of Sunday’s opponent’s Sydney Olympic, 4-nil, ending their undefeated streak as well.
The Mariners have been shown to be adaptable in their approach. Their style has evolved across the season, especially since star striker Candice Phelan fell victim to injury – who fired in 44 goals – in their dramatic 3-2 victory against APIA Leichhardt in week two of the finals. Youngster Iona Snape has filled her void with aplomb topped with her bomb to down SD Raiders last week.
Snape scored 13 goals in her 16 appearances this season, her strength on the ball against larger opponents will hold her in good stead against an experienced Olympic FC defense. Alongside pacey winger Jordan Evans (14 goals) Mariners have a dual threat to combat the artillery that the Premiers possess.
Looking at the key battle though, it will be the Mariners defense marshalled by goalkeeper Rhiannon Hines. The coastal side were rock solid, winning the aerial duels against SD Raiders, and they need to repeat the dose against Olympic FC.
Player to watch: Along the same vein, Olympic FC have their own jet-heeled attacker, Jordan Evans. The second string to Candice Phelan’s orchestra most of the season, but she came into her own late in the piece, including a four-goal performance against APIA. Flying down the flanks, Evans brings spark and energy to the Mariners unit and is prepared for a huge performance on Sunday evening.
Taking all those ingredients into account, Sunday sets up to be a classic encounter between two heavyweights of the NPL2 Womens and be a fitting finale to what has been a wonderful season of football.
Tale of the tape:
Round 6: Sydney Olympic FC 5 defeated Central Coast Mariners 2
Round 17: Central Coast Mariners 4 defeated Sydney Olympic FC 0
Click here to view the NPL 2 NSW Women’s Grand Final Match Day Program
-By Justin Davies