Round 18 Review – State League Women’s

Women’s State League round 18 saw APIA Leichhardt Tigers claim their second-straight premiership with a 2-0 defeat of SD Raiders, Western NSW Mariners beat Parramatta FC 10-0, St George and Mount Druitt Town Rangers played out a scoreless draw, while University of NSW had the bye.

The results took APIA to an unbeatable position at the top of the leaderboard 13 points clear of both Saints and Raiders (26 points), a point ahead of Uni (25) with Mariners (22) creeping closer to the top-four.

And just for kicks: As official ball sponsor for this year’s State League Women’s competition, Patrick is providing their Vite and Spectra balls for every bit of action, and you can pick up some of your own online through The Football Corner website. Football NSW thanked Patrick for their ongoing support of “our beautiful game in New South Wales”.

SD Raiders 0 APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2 (Christy Ferreyra ’18, Rebecca Watts ‘23), Sunday 6 August 3pm, Ernie Smith Reserve

APIA Leichhardt Tigers were crowned premiers for the second year running following a solid 2-0 win over SD Raiders at Ernie Smith Reserve that gave them an unassailable 13-point lead with three rounds to go.

APIA bolted out of the blocks and went ahead on 18-minutes when leading scorer Christy Ferreyra hit a rasping low drive that opened the scoring, and it was 2-0 within minutes as Rebecca Watts goaled following some good lead-up play from Jessica Martinez.

The match intensity was high as both sides went at each other with great ferocity, and there was plenty of admiration for a gutsy display from returned Tigers defender Kylie Manias – making her first appearance in eight weeks after sustaining a serious knee injury – who led a defensive line that kept golden boot contender Dana Buttigieg quiet.

There were chances at both ends but APIA had all the answers to claim an important victory over a Districts side that beat them in last year’s grand final. Ferreyra’s goal also took her to within one of leading scorer Uni’s Yadira Rengifo.

APIA coach Matteo Maiorana said the game resembled two tribes going head-to-head as the competition’s biggest rivals put on another battle-royale that was predictably physical and tough.

“I really can't be any prouder of my girls – that was a really hard-fought victory. We were missing six first-graders and still managed to get a great result against a very good Raiders side,” he said.

“[Raiders mentor Catherine] Cannuli is a great coach and used a different formation to what we are used to, but we countered that with some tweaks of our own and got our reward.

“To win the premiership with three rounds in hand is a remarkable achievement. To date we’ve lost one game and have the best attack [70 goals scored] and best defence [14 conceded], so we deserve the premiership but still have our eyes squarely focused on adding more silverware before season’s end,” said Maiorana.

Cannuli was straight to the point: “It was a tough and physical game where they took their chances and we didn’t,” she said.

Western NSW Mariners 9 (Jasmin Courtenay x2, Annabel Meadley x2, Jessica Salomoni x2, Teegan Courtney, Poorsha Mcphillamy, Cushla Rue) Parramatta FC 0, Sunday 6 August 3pm, Proctor Park

Western NSW Mariners enjoyed a 9-0 return against Parramatta FC to inch even closer to a congested top-four.

Doubles to Jasmin Courtenay, Annabel Meadley and Jessica Salomoni helped turn a 4-0 halftime buffer into a nine-goal victory, a result that took Western NSW to within three points of fourth-placed University of NSW and just four points off second spot.

The other factor that weighs heavily in the Mariners favour is a healthy goal-difference of +36, which is between 14 and 23 goals better than the three sides above them – and they get the opportunity to make a more serious playoff move when they face St George at Proctor Park this Sunday. They also face Uni in the last round. 

Western coach Jason Payne wasn’t tickled by the result or performance but said it laid the platform for the next three weeks’ mission.

“It was good to get some goals and hopefully we can build on that for next week, but we really need to get the wins to put the pressure on the teams above us,” he said.

“I did say to the girls at halftime that they looked like they weren’t right in it; whether it was because of the opposition or not but I think next week against St George will be a better chance to see where everyone’s at. Now we need to see some strides forward from today’s game to make anything count.”

St George FC 0 Mount Druitt Town Rangers 0, Sunday 6 August 3pm, St George Stadium

Mount Druitt Town Rangers produced another inspiring performance in holding St George to a 0-0 draw at St George Stadium.

A strong wind turned the game into two distinct halves but both sides had great chances to score – both also scraping the woodwork – with the scoreless stalemate still enough to take St George into second place on goal-difference over Raiders.

Mount Druitt went with the wind and pinned the home side in their own half for most of the opening term, hitting the crossbar from one freekick and bombing a few over the top in front of goal.

It was the complete opposite in the second period as St George dominated, Amy Bennett missing a glorious chance in front, a team-mate skimming the crossbar on another attempt and the side-netting ruffled on several occasions – but some resolute Rangers defending ensured the points were split.

It’s been quite a ride for Mount Druitt over the last eight weeks. Sitting one place off the bottom they agonised in tight defeats to St George (2-4), Raiders (1-2), Mariners (1-2), drew 3-3 with UNSW, beat Parramatta 10-0, pushed leaders APIA in a 3-5 loss and now grabbed a point from Saints.

And for a team that’s conceded 53 goals in 16 matches it was their second cleansheet in three weeks. It’s the kind of momentum that should have Rangers brimming with confidence over the off-season.

For St George however it’s a golden opportunity missed. A win would’ve taken them two points clear in second spot with Raiders still to face their bye. Now just one point separates second from fourth with fifth-placed Mariners on the boil a few points off the pace.

It wasn’t an easy build-up to the game for Saints coach Carlo Tini. Inspirational captain Lauren Gardiner was overseas and he had to replace two other players right before kickoff, handing plenty of plaudits to the junior players who filled in.

“We had an off day, that simple,” he said. “Mount Druitt played really well; they scrambled hard, worked hard, earned the point they got and could’ve easily had a victory, while we looked flat and didn’t show up to play.”

“It’s a massive loss of two points for us and could be the difference between coming second, third or fourth. It’s going to be tough up at Orange next week [against top-four chasers Mariners] but it’s a game we really do have to win.

“There’s still plenty to take from today. We have to learn to not take anything for granted and learn to grind out games, and I guess that only comes from experience.”

Next week’s games

Women’s State League round-19 games kick-off 3pm on Sunday: University of NSW host Parramatta FC at David Phillips Complex, Western NSW Mariners welcome St George FC to Jack Brabham Park, Mount Druitt Town Rangers face SD Raiders at Popondetta Park, and APIA Leichhardt Tigers have the bye.