The Women's Central League is no more. Last season a independent player focused review was held and one of the greatest concerns highlighted was the Central League. While the top 3 of Wellington United, Upper Hutt City & Palmerston North Marist fought a very close battle that saw the league title only decided on the last game of the season, the gap between them and the rest was huge. The bottom 3 teams only managed single figure points totals, Valeron Wanderers withdrew partway through the season, 43% of the games had a goal difference of 4 or more and there were some ridiculous scores such as 19-0, 16-2, 11-0 & 10-0.
So the 2nd edition of the Women's Central League, which has been around since 2005 (the first edition ran from 1994-98), has been discontinued and replaced by the Capital Football W-League. The league will have 6 teams, 5 from the Capital Federation and 1 from the Central Federation. They are
- Palmerston North Marist
- Stop Out
- Upper Hutt City
- Wairarapa United
- Wellington United
- Games will be played on Saturday's
- There will be 3 rounds
- 5 Substitutions (These are NOT rolling subs as has been rumoured)
- No relegation until a review in 2019
Here is a look at the teams in the league and my predictions, which given it's a 6 team league are quite difficult to make!
PALMERSTON NORTH MARIST
Coach : Simon Lees
IN - Leah Gallie (Massey), Tilly James (New Plymouth GHS), Erin Carpenter (Stop Out), Anna Hinton (Moturoa)
OUT - Ella James (overseas), Gorgi van Lienen (Three Kings United)
Finished 3rd in the Central League last season, only losing to Wellington United (twice) and Upper Hutt City. Could be strengthened by the fact they are the only Central Federation club in this league.
Prediction : 3rd
Coach : Gary Jenkins
IN - Tessa McPherson (Dunedin Technical), Danielle Calautti (Overseas)
The 4 time Central League winners, had a season to forget last year and will be looking to return to the form that won them the Central League in 2015. As well as new signings they have Kelsi Rutene back in the squad. Will be competitive but may struggle to keep up with the more youthful Wellington United & Upper Hutt City.
Prediction : 4th
IN - Olivia Browne (Roslyn-Wakari), Heather Williams (Petone)
OUT - Erin Carpenter (Palmerston North Marist), Kassandra Clendon (Upper Hutt City), Anja Madsen (Island Bay United)
Struggled last season, used 28 players and only managed 2 wins. Have a new coach this season but will need to shore up their defence. Will likely be battling it out with Wairarapa United to avoid the wooden spoon.
Prediction : 5th
UPPER HUTT CITY
IN - Sarah Gregorius (Saitima, Japan), CJ Bott (Forrest Hill Milford Utd), Bex Jeffries (Petone), Kassandra Clendon (Stop Out)
OUT - Mikela Hunt, Emily Morison (Both Dunedin Technical)
Runners up in last season's Central League with the best defensive record conceding only 7 goals, also made it to the semi final of the National Women's Knockout Cup and won the Kelly Cup. Will be looking to go one better in the league and the cup. Will be helped massively by ex Football Fern, Sarah Gregorius, who has returned to the club where she started. Also adding current Football Fern CJ Bott to the squad will make up for the loss of Mikela Hunt and Emily Morison
Prediction : 1st
Coach : Kim Nye
Have spent the last couple of seasons storming through the lower grades culminating in winning Capital Premier last season on goal difference from Wellington United reserves.
Last season's coach and club benefactor, Phil Kenziley, has decamped to coach the men's team. In comes former Football Fern Kim Nye. It's a big step up into this league and will be interesting to see how they cope with it
Prediction : 6th
IN - Briar Palmer (Forrest Hill Milford), Maia Green (Massey), Maya Hahn (Western Suburbs), Topaz Lloyd-Saunders (Petone)
OUT - Hope Gilchrist, Maika Ruyter-Hooley
Last season's Central League champions scored an impressive 67 goals on their way to the title. They have kept the squad together and scored a coup in adding the exciting Briar Palmer, who was the star of the Capital National League team. With Saturday games, it will be interesting to see how coach Guillermo Schiltenwolf juggles his role with his other job as Wellington Olympic men's central league assistant coach and if this will have any effect on the team.
Prediction : 2nd
ROUND 1 GAMES - Saturday 1st April
Wellington United v Stop Out
Palmerston North Marist v Upper Hutt City
Memorial Park, Palmerston North
Wairarapa United v Seatoun
Masterton Memorial Turf