Newcastle Olympic have been widely tipped as premiership favourites and coach Harmonie Attwill believes playing league heavyweights Merewether at Darling Street Oval on Sunday will show them how their Herald Women’s Premier League season is shaping up.
United have featured in four of the past five WPL grand finals, winning three. They have lost several key players this year but drew 3-3 with defending champions New Lambton last weekend while Olympic were 8-0 winners over Mid Coast.
“We’re approaching the game with an open mind, knowing it will be definitely a challenge and knowing that Merewether are always a tough side to play against,” Attwill said.
“But the girls are looking forward to that challenge. It will give us a real indication of where the squad sits in relation to the rest of the competition as well.”
Jets striker and multiple WPL leading scorer Jenna Kingsley is not expected in action for Olympic until round three.
Goalkeeper Alison Logue returns for Merewether after being unavailable in round one and midfielder Sarah Bergin is set to make her first appearance for the club. The former Irish youth international missed round one while waiting for an international clearance.
United coach Scott Ellis was equally viewing the match as a gauge for their season.
“Everyone is super keen for this game because it will give us a measure of exactly where we’re at,” Ellis said.
“We definitely had some weaknesses last week but I’m positive we can put in a good showing and, if we can come out of this one with a draw or better, we’ll cement ourselves as one of the likely top-four teams, which is where we want to be.”
Ellis said Merewether will need to be tighter defensively and more composed in the middle of the park.
“Defensively, we weren’t tracking runners very well and that allowed New Lambton to play one-twos all over the park and that can be extremely damaging,” he said.
“That really just comes down to individual discipline and co-ordination as a group. The other thing was we rushed a little bit in midfield and that meant we gave the ball away a little too quickly.”
The game is at 3pm.
Maitland vs Newcastle Olympic on Saturday 14th March at Cooks Square Park, Maitland
U16s kick off at 3.00pm
U15s kick off at 1.20pm
U14s kick off at 11.40am
U13s kick off at 10.00am
Newcastle Olympic vs Kahibah on Monday 16th March at Harold Knight Oval, Gateshead
Kick off at 6.30pm
U9s, U10s, U11s SAP:
Lake Macquarie vs Newcastle Olympic at LMRFF on Sunday 15th March
U11s kick off at 4.20pm
Valentine vs Newcastle Olympic at LMRFF on Saturday 14th March
U10s kick off at 9.10
U9s kick off at 9.10
Source: Tom Tsamouras