Women's State League 2015 Season Preview

Last year saw the Football NSW Women’s State League compact into an eight-team league, resulting in an exciting and competitive season of women’s football.

This season promises to exceed last year’s, with eight highly competitive outfits all looking to claim the coveted championship.

APIA Leichhardt Tigers

The Tigers endured a harrowing season in 2014, which saw the side finish seventh with only two wins to boast. Technical Director Gianfranco Impellizzeri says the club was extremely disappointed with this result and believes his most important job is to rebuild club culture.

Certainly, memory of last year’s performance is set to spur the Tigers on to bigger and better things, with Impellizzeri aiming to guide the team to a top four finish.

The off-season has been a useful one for the Tigers, with Impellizzeri describing, “We’ve signed a goalkeeper who was last year the best in the league, but I don’t want to name our signings just yet, because I don’t want to put pressure on them.”

Importantly, the club believes they have held onto the core of their squad, confident that the talent is there and the results will come.

Bankstown City FC

Bankstown City have enjoyed impressive seasons in the last two years, but haven’t yet been able to claim the coveted promotion.

In 2013 they were knocked out narrowly in the Preliminary Final, while in 2014 they were beaten agonizingly in the Grand Final.

Coach Todd Gagan insists that this year will see them finally claim the ultimate prize.

“History shows that we score a lot of goals, so I think our midfield and front third will be our strength coming into the season.”

Indeed, Bankstown scored a remarkable 105 goals in 2014, leading them to second place with the highest goal difference in the competition.

Samantha Muscat was the major threat, scoring an incredible fifty seven goals in just twenty three games. Tania Baban contributed a further sixteen.

The club have supplemented the core of their squad from the last two seasons with a few signings, and Gagan asserts, “Overall, I think we have the players to get the job done.”

He didn’t, however, want to single anyone out, insisting, “We’ll focus on our midfield and scoring goals, because winning is the name of the game.”

Gladesville Ravens

The Gladesville Ravens came third from bottom in 2014, however this position is somewhat deceiving. The club finished a full nineteen points ahead of the Tigers below them, which they believe demonstrates that the club deserves to be in this competition, and is a strong competitor.

This season, Technical Director Sandra Awondatu says the Ravens want to take the next step and fight for promotion.

Awondatu describes the Ravens’ focus on youth, which she believes will be the key to their success in the year to come.

“The Under 13s, 15s and 17s are development teams, who we teach not really about winning, but more to help them develop and try to teach them how to play football in a proper way.

“We want to create a development pathway for all girls who want to improve their football, and maybe one day play for the Matildas.”

Last season, the Ravens set up a mixed gender team starting from the Under 12s, which they believe will further help the development of their young women footballers.

“All of the girls who played in the Under 12 mixed gender team will be playing for our Under 13s women squad this year.”

Awondatu emphasises that the club develops their own players, and does not have to rely on recruiting at a senior level for this reason.

The Ravens are also supplemented by their ground breaking partnership with the North West Sydney Koalas, focusing grassroots football in the North West Sydney region.

Mt. Druitt Town Rangers FC

The Mt. Druitt Town Rangers are an ambitious club, having only been in the competition for three years. Their ambition was met by results last season after a successful third place finish saw them turn many heads.

They were unfortunate to drop out of the finals after a penalty shootout against St. George.

Club president Mark Robertson describes that the Rangers have retained approximately seventy percent of their squad from last season, and are looking to “if not win the club championship, come very, very close.”

Robertson asserts that the team’s strongest attribute is their chemistry and “the way that they have gelled over the last couple of years”.

“Because we’re a new club, it's important that the girls have been able to play together for a couple of years and that is the way that they’ll continue to improve.”

The Rangers won’t have many new faces around this season, mainly promoting players from their youth teams up to firsts. The club is confident that they can build on last year’s impressive showing, and fight for promotion.

Parramatta FC

Parramatta FC will be enjoying their first season in the Women’s State League, and are undoubtedly keen to make a mark in the new competition.

Enjoying a long and storied footballing history, Parramatta FC have endured choppy seas over the past few years, and are looking to reinvigorate their club.

Creating a strong women’s football pathway will be an integral part of their rebuilding process.

With the demise of the Parramatta Lady Hawks, the club will provide the focal point for women’s football in the Parramatta and Hills area, rich with football talent and desire.

Harvesting the quality in this area will be their major focus over the next couple of years.

Southern District Emeralds

Of course, the Southern District Emeralds would like to finish the season in semi-final contention, but this is not their primary objective in 2015.

Their major focus will be more holistic, aiming to promote the development of women’s football in their area.

Recruitment for the Emeralds was always going to be a major challenge. Last year they were unable to field an Under 17s team, which in turn stunted their ability to promote youngsters into their senior squad.

However, this season they have successfully addressed this issue and will have all squads covered.

Their youth set up is getting better and better, with the club expecting their Under 15s in particular to flourish, as the majority of the players in that squad have been with the club for over three years.

With the setting of this developmental groundwork, the senior squad should only improve further and further in seasons to come.

Last year, the Emeralds only just missed out on the finals series, finishing in fifth place. Things look to be coming together in 2015, as they push for an even better result.

St George FC

St George exceeded expectations in the season past, and were very happy with their finish in the top four. Their defeat to Nepean FC in the preliminary finals will have stung, but also encouraged the squad to go further this year.

The club has retained the same coaching staff as last year, as well as the majority of their playing squad, extremely happy with how they performed and confident the girls will play even better with more experience under their belt. In fact St George have made their intentions this season very clear: they want to earn promotion.

St George are very excited about the new signings they have brought into supplement their squad, with high hopes surrounding Amelia Carnovale. Other players like Mary Harding and goalkeeper Stephanie Lara, who saved three penalties in the side’s semi-final last year, are also expected to have successful seasons.

However, club officials are strong in reinforcing that the first-team squad is not set in stone, and they intend on promoting players throughout the year if they deserve to be called upon.

Western NSW Mariners FC

The Western NSW Mariners will be looking to quickly earn promotion back into the PS4 National Premier League  NSW Women’s 2; something coach Mick Gobdier believes the girls will be well capable of achieving.

The team lost numerous key players over the off-season to PS4 NPL NSW Women’s 1 club Blacktown Spartans, but are happy to have held on to goalkeeper Jess Damon, while numerous former players have returned after stints at other clubs to bolster the squad.

Gobdier describes how his team will set-up this season.

“I think we’ve got a very good spine and some talented young players coming up this season, so we’re looking to play a 4-3-3 [formation]. We’re trying to play two attacking midfielders instead of two holding midfielders this year.”

The club is excited about the young talent they have coming through the ranks.

“There will be a few who are definitely going to turn some heads, but as coach I don’t want to put any pressure on them and I will let them do the talking.”

Source FNSW website -By Daniel Palmer