NPL Preview: Women to face week two of Finals Football


Our Academy sides have got a high-stakes weekend ahead in the NPL 2. It will be a tough home fixture this Saturday for the men against St. George FC at Pluim Park, and as the finals action continues for the women, head coach Dan Barrett looks back on a season of success before Saturday’s semi-final clash against APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC.

Central Coast Mariners Academy Women vs. APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC

It was a narrow loss for the Mariner’s Academy in the preliminary semi-final last week, but thanks to a successful season, their finals journey isn’t over yet. Despite Sunday’s set back, Dan Barrett knows the Academy can take plenty of confidence into their clash with APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC in a do-or-die minor semi-final.

“It’s ok to be disappointed with the loss last week.” Barrett said. “We approached the game very differently than any other game this season, in relation to tactically how we wanted to handle the opponent, and I think it brought us closer to them, we can certainly beat them. But there is still plenty of confidence going into the Leichhardt game this week,”

Leichhardt, who finished 4th on the competition ladder, had a narrow win 4-3 win on penalties against Nepean FC last weekend, and have been undefeated in their past seven games. However, the Mariners’ Academy Women have maintained a positive track record against the Tigers, winning both of their previous fixtures and claiming a 5-2 away victory in their most recent clash.

“Leichhardt are a team that we’ve been able to dominate twice, and I don’t see any reason why this weekend would be any different.” Barrett said. “The girls know that they have to win, and to be totally honest, that’s when they’re at their best, so we’re looking forward to this weekend.”

Match Details
Saturday, 18 August 2018
NSW NPL 2 Minor Semi-Final
Central Coast Mariners’ Academy Women vs. APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC
Venue: Marconi Stadium
Kick-off: 3:45pm 

It’s not just the 1st team with a big weekend ahead. There’s plenty of football action across the board for the Mariners Academy women, with all five teams still pushing forward with their finals campaigns – a huge turnaround from last season, where only one team finished within the top five. This success has been no fluke, but the result of careful strategy and dedication from Dan Barrett and his coaching staff.

“We had a plan in place, and we had a style of football that we wanted to implement right throughout the grades.” Barrett said. “We reduced the program and the learning as the age groups went down, but there was nice continuity throughout the teams in relation to how they went about playing their football.” Barrett said.

“It also helped the coaches really understand what coaching is all about, because they were training with a real purpose to it.” He said. “There was a real learning and structure that we were trying to implement throughout the program and it embedded itself quite quickly, and the results are what we’re seeing now at the end of the season.”

Of course, it also helps that Barrett and Mariners’ Academy had plenty of local Central Coast talent to draw upon, as well as the support of the entire club behind them.

“Probably the most exciting thing about our program is that it’s easily about 90% of our program are girls from the Central Coast, which speaks volumes about the talent here: it just needed to be nurtured correctly.” Barrett said. “It just needed someone to take some time, someone with an understanding of women’s football, and someone with a good team around them – and I had all of those things.

“Another thing that was really nice as well was that I had good backing from the club. Whenever I needed anything from Ken [Schembri] and Shaun [Mielekemp], I got it, which certainly helped.” Barrett said.

The season’s results show that there’s no shortage of gifted footballers in the Academy’s ranks. Barrett made mention of a few young guns that have had especially impressive seasons, making particular note of the season’s top goal scorer Candace Phelan.

“You can’t go past Candace Phelan, who has just had a phenomenal season,” Barrett said. “It was really brought about by understanding how we want her to play, and she’s being doing some extra training as well, which was all brought on by herself, she’s got a great attitude to improve.

“There’s another young girl by the name of Iona Snape, who I think debuted in the first-grade team at 14, and has been a regular fixture within the first-grade team and is scoring goals on a regular basis, so she’s certainly one for the future.” Barrett said. “Leisel Collins and Kasey Boelhouwer are another two youngsters who are 14, and regularly playing in the 17s. There’s still more underneath that, but those that I’ve highlighted have really caught my attention this year.”

Best of luck to all the Mariners’ Academy Women’s teams in the NPL 2 this weekend: Reserve grade and the U17s are set to take on APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC, whilst the U15’s face the Marconi Stallions and the U14’s play Sydney Olympic. All games will be played at Marconi.

Central Coast Mariners’ Academy vs. St. George FC.

After a tough loss to the North Shore Mariners on the weekend, the Mariners’ Academy have to turn it around for their crucial hit-out against second-place St George FC at Pluim Park.

The Mariners Academy are currently holding onto third place on goal difference, and a win would put them ahead of St. George, who only have a two-point lead on the competition ladder. The Academy took a win away from Illenden Sports Centre last time the clubs met, and this week’s home advantage will hopefully give the Mariner’s Academy an extra edge to clinch three important points as the season draws to a close.

Match Details
Saturday, 18 August 2018
NSW NPL 2 Round 25
Central Coast Mariners Academy vs. St George FC
Venue: Pluim Park, Lisarow
Kick-off: 4:00pm