So a week after assuming that Canterbury United Pride would beat Central, Northern would beat WaiBOP and Capital would end up with an away game in the finals of the National Women's League the wonderful world of football threw up something completely different!
Firstly, Central shocked everyone by drawing 1-1 with Canterbury United Pride and then WaiBOP came from 2-0 down to beat Northern 3-2 with a last minute goal. The result was that one point separated the top four teams. Defending champions, Northern, ended on 12 points and missed out on the finals. Canterbury United Pride, Capital & WaiBOP, all on 13 points took the top 3 spots (in that order). It means Capital get a home semi final against WaiBOP, which will be played at Petone Memorial on Sunday at 1pm.
Having such a close league has shown that no team can be taken lightly and has been really good for Women's football in NZ according to Capital co-coach Emma Evans, who commented “...over the last couple of years maybe the quality and how the leagues (have been) perceived hasn't been where it should be so I'd like to think that this year it would show everyone it's getting back there again”
Evans, Capital's Football Women's Development Officer and an assistant coach of the women's team last season was joined by Petone women's head coach, Sam Morrissey, in a co-coach role for this season, something that Morrissey says is going really well “we've been together with FTC (Football Talent Center's) and other various different things as well, in terms of how its gone its worked really well”
|Capital Co-Coaches Sam Morrissey & Emma Evans The JourneyFan|
Taking on a Capital team that had seemed to have lost the pride of playing for the yellow jersey, finishing 6th last season, which bought with it the ignominious record of the worst ever performance by a Capital \ Wellington team at the national level was always going to be a challenge but it is one Evans and Morrissey were well prepared for.
Evans said “Although its still a young squad we have girls that have been in the league for quite a few years and have quite a bit of experience to add, its just drawing on that. I think believing in them a little bit, they weren't very confident after last years campaign so trying to build them back up again this year I knew would be key if we wanted to succeed in the league.
While building up their confidence, Evans and Morrissey wanted the players to redefine what playing for the yellow jersey of Capital Football meant. At an early season session the players outlined to the co-coaches what the campaign meant to them, identifying togetherness, unity and team culture. Evans says “Technically and tactically there's not much between each team in this league but for us that team culture and togetherness would help us in a short campaign those things make a massive difference”.
|Capital 2016 - The JourneyFan|
This team spirit has shone through in all their games even being picked up on by their opposition, after Capital had won 3-1, Auckland's Ally Toailoa said “no particular player stood out (but) if they dropped their heads they always picked each other up”
Morrissey said “To do it (create a culture) in such a short space of time as well, its worked out really well”
With such a tight team culture, it's hard to pick the standout players and something that Evans and Morrissey don't like to do. Evans heaping praise on the entire squad of 24 “...even the players that aren't in the starting eleven, who might not even make the game day squad, the effort and the work they are putting into every training session, even if they aren't getting on the park on the weekend those things make a huge difference and are just as important as the player who scored the winning goal”
|Briar Palmer The JourneyFan|
While not picking standout players, its undeniable that getting former NZ youth international, Briar Palmer, back on board after she had spells in Auckland and Australia (with W-League side Melbourne Victory) has been huge. Evans says “Briar leads by example in all that she does, she turns up to training early, works on her own individual work-ons in her own time.......her leading by example and setting the standards and driving that intensity at training....shes played overseas and that experience has been invaluable at this level and shes been a really big role model for the younger players coming through”
Sunday's opponents WaiBOP probably have the best banner in the league that says “WaiBOP when you can boogie?” when asked if they thought they would lead WaiBOP on a merry dance, Evans replied “I'd like to think so, although we can't take them lightly, we know what they are capable of. To come back from being 2-0 down to win that game against Northern, that takes heart and its a real team effort. We cant take them lightly we know what they are going to bring to the field on the weekend”
|Best Banner in the league Enzo Giordani|
Morrisery agreed that both teams have nothing to lose pointing out “both teams missed the finals last year so for both its good we've gotten this far, but yeah hopefully we'll do one over them”
So get along to Petone Memorial this Sunday 4th December at 1pm to cheer Capital on
Thanks to Emma Evans & Sam Morrissey for giving me their time.