NPLW Grand Final Preview
Belconnen United v Canberra FC | Sunday, September 16th – 5pm @ McKellar Park & LIVE on BarTV Sports
The big dance is finally here, and Belconnen United will once more meet Canberra FC in the National Premier League Women’s Grand Final. It is a matchup we have become very accustomed to, as two of the consistently best teams in the league battle time and time again. The clash between these two in the Grand Final last year was an absolute epic, as a heroic performance from Chantel Jones in goal won Canberra FC the title. However they will be without Jones this year after a knee injury sustained in Round 12 at Deakin. Mark Risteski’s side have been victims of rotten luck this year with at least four serious knee injuries and have lost over half of their original starting squad from Round One.
But they have kept on keeping on, and a thrilling extra-time win over the Canberra United Academy last weekend was the latest installment of that with Grace Gill leading the charge. That followed an Elimination Final win against Canberra Olympic, two wins that some maybe didn’t expect after they struggled in the latter weeks of the regular season. Jones has now taken up a spot on the sideline alongside Risteski and between them the two have helped orchestrate those wins. This weekend though they face the toughest task in the league, knocking off Belconnen United at McKellar Park. Twice they have faced them there this season and twice they have fallen, so a trend will need to be bucked for them to win.
Belconnen come in having still not lost a game all season, taking out an eighth straight Premiership and again winning the Federation Cup against the Canberra United Academy. It is a successful season that would be that little bit sweeter if topped off by a Grand Final win, and Antoni Jagarinec admitted on Friday that the 2017 decider still lingers in the back of the mind. They won’t dwell on it though, and they locked in their appearance in this game with an emphatic semi-final win against the Academy in the Qualifying Final. The Blue Devils have threats all over the park and will likely do most of the creation and hold possession in this clash. Maddy Whittall and Jessie Williams will pose problems for Canberra FC up front, while the likes of Nicole Jalocha, Michaela Day and Lauren Keir will bolster the spine of the team and make them hard to play through.