Can­ter­bury United Pride the team to beat

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport - STUFF RE­PORTERS

The 2017 edi­tion of the Na­tional Women’s League football com­pe­ti­tion be­gins this week­end, kick­ing off a two-month cam­paign that cul­mi­nates in a pre-fi­nal (sec­ond v third) on De­cem­ber 3, and a fi­nal on De­cem­ber 10.

Can­ter­bury United Pride are the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, af­ter beat­ing Cap­i­tal 2-0 in last year’s de­cider. NORTH­ERN Coach: Hay­ley Stir­ling

Goal­keep­ers: Emily Couch­man, Anna Leat De­fend­ers: Clau­dia Bunge, Shay­den Cathro, Ber­nadette Gould­ing, Casey Klyn, Han­nah Mackay-Wright, Stacey Martin, Aneka Mit­ten­dorff, Saskia Vosper

Mid­field­ers: Anya Gross, Kate Loye, Ve­gas McCaroll, Milly McWhirter, Cather­ine Pretty, Liz Sav­age, Malia Stein­metz For­wards: Jane Bar­nett, Cara Lon­er­gan, Ara­bella May­nard, Jess Ou­laghan, Trudy San­dle, Dayna Stevens, Sam Tawharu Last year:

Fourth - four wins, two losses; 21 goals for, nine against Draw: v Cen­tral, @ Auck­land, v Cen­tral, @ WaiBop, v Can­ter­bury, @ North­ern

For the first time in years, North­ern aren’t go­ing to be able to rely on Katie Rood for goals, with the pro­lific striker now at Ju­ven­tus in Italy. Mid­field­ers Kate Loye and Liz Sav­age (nee Milne) ran the game for Glen­field Rovers in the Na­tional Women’s Knock­out Cup fi­nal, and will be key fig­ures if North­ern are to bounce back, af­ter miss­ing the finals last time around. As al­ways, there are plenty of age-group in­ter­na­tion­als in­volved, in­clud­ing promis­ing mid­fielder Malia Stein­metz. An­drew Vo­er­man

AUCK­LAND

Coach: Gemma Lewis Goal­keep­ers: Na­dia Olla, Brooke

Wylie De­fend­ers: Liz An­ton, Ge­or­gia Brown, Kate Carl­ton, Ge­or­gia Martin, Me­gan Robert­son, Ally Toailoa, Amy Wa­ters, Erinna Wong Mid­field­ers:

Han­nah Blake, Emily Gil­lion, Grace Jale, Ni­cole Met­tam, Mar­got Ram­say, Lily Taitimu For­wards: Brit­ney Cun­ning­ham-Lee, Maisy Dewell, Lily Dowsett, Kathryn Gow, Jacqui Hand, Tayla O’Brien, Max­ine Rawns­ley, Steph Sk­il­ton Last year: Fifth - two wins, four losses; 16 goals for, 19 against Draw: @ South­ern, v Cap­i­tal, Bye, @ Cen­tral, v WaiBop, @ Can­ter­bury, v North­ern

On pa­per, Auck­land po­ten­tially have the strong­est squad in the coun­try, fea­tur­ing a wealth of age­group in­ter­na­tion­als - in­clud­ing the core of the cur­rent un­der-20 squad as well as a num­ber of ex­pe­ri­enced hands. The big ques­tion will be how quickly they can gel, given they are largely start­ing afresh, un­like most of their ri­vals for a place in the finals. AV WAIKATO-BAY OF PLENTY Coach: Barry Gar­diner

Goal­keep­ers: Ge­or­gia Candy, An­gelique Tui Samoa, Amanda Wil­shier De­fend­ers: Grace Cox, Michaela Fos­ter, Eileish Hayes, Tiana Hill, Toni Power, Han­nah Reid, Kat Robin­son, Kate Wil­liams Mid­field­ers:

Emma Cawte, Leah Gubb, Sarah Kryst­man, Sarah McLaugh­lin, Ge­or­gia Nixon, Leanna Ryan, He­len Tal­bot

For­wards: Kelli Brown, Chelsea El­liott, Ella Gold­ing, Kim Maguire, Danaya McKen­zie, Grace Wis­newski

Last year: Third - four wins, one draw, one loss; 20 goals for, 15 against

Draw: @ Can­ter­bury, v North­ern, @ South­ern, v Cap­i­tal, @ Auck­land, v Cen­tral, Bye

Sur­prised more than a few peo­ple by mak­ing it to the finals last year, with the same record as the win­ners, Can­ter­bury, and the run­ners up, Cap­i­tal, who they lost to in the pre­fi­nal only on penal­ties. They have lost He­len Ar­jo­mandi from last year’s squad, who is tak­ing the sum­mer off, and will miss her goals and ex­pe­ri­ence, but they have gained Sarah McLaugh­lin, who is mak­ing her re­turn from suc­ces­sive se­ri­ous knee in­juries. De­spite los­ing Ar­jo­mandi, they have great con­ti­nu­ity, which will be key as they try to keep the likes of Auck­land and North­ern at bay. AV CEN­TRAL Coach: Si­mon Lees

Goal­keep­ers: Brooke Ben­nett, Aoife Gal­lagher-Forbes, Court­ney Nor­man

De­fend­ers: Jenna Barry, Macken­zie Barry, Rose Mor­ton, Sarah Mor­ton, Evie New­man, Am­ber Phillips, Kate Wat­son, Molly Wood­head

Mid­field­ers: Aimee Atkins, Emma Crewe, So­phie Crewe, Leah Gal­lie, Anna Hinton, Ella James, Aniela Jensen, Chantelle Le­bon For­wards: Ge­or­gia Bar­nett, Meisha Boone, Alee­sha Hey­wood, Tilly James, Han­nah Robert Last year: Sixth - one win, one draw, four losses; five goals for, 17 against Draw: @ North­ern, v South­ern, @ Cap­i­tal, v Auck­land, Bye, @ WaiBop, v Can­ter­bury

The re­turn of Si­mon Lees as coach af­ter three years away is a cause for Cen­tral to be op­ti­mistic. He took the team to fourth place last time he was in charge in 2013, and will be hope­ful of get­ting the best out of a side that con­sists largely of play­ers from the Palmer­ston North Marist club. Ge­orge Heag­ney CAP­I­TAL Coach: Emma Evans

Goal­keep­ers: Natasha In­gram, Cushla Litch­wark De­fend­ers: Katie Bar­rott, Libby Boobyer, Ellen Fibbes, Francesca Grange, Emma Lav­ery, Ser­ena Mur­rihy, Tessa McPher­son, Carolyn O’Reilly, Rosie Wild, Ella Wil­son Mid­field­ers: Kennedy Bryant, Maya Hahn, Bex Jef­feries, Mag­gie Jenk­ins, Lena de Ronde, Emily Stot­ter, Asha Strom, For­wards: Sarah Gre­go­rius, Klara Gronevik, Emma Main, Jade Mor­ris­sey, Michaela Robert­son Last year: Sec­ond - four wins, one draw, one loss; 16 goals for, eight against Draw: Bye, @ Auck­land, v Cen­tral, @ WaiBop, v Can­ter­bury, @ North­ern, v South­ern

Last year’s beaten fi­nal­ists look even stronger this year. The re­turn of New Zealand un­der-20 de­fender Ser­ena Mur­rihy from WaiBop strength­ens what was al­ready a stingy de­fence. Up front, they’ve lost Briar Palmer, but have a more-than-handy re­place­ment in 82-cap for­mer Football Fern Sarah Gre­go­rius. She scored 36 goals in 17 games in all com­pe­ti­tions through the win­ter, and will join an al­ready po­tent at­tack fea­tur­ing her Up­per Hutt team­mate Emma Main, and Welling­ton United’s Swedish forward Klara Gronevik and her team­mate Michaela Robert­son. Throw in age-group stars Maya Hahn and Mag­gie Jenk­ins and it looks like another strong cam­paign ahead. Liam Hys­lop CAN­TER­BURY UNITED PRIDE Coach: Mike De Bono

Goal­keep­ers: Vic­to­ria Es­son, Una Foyle, Briar Guyan De­fend­ers:

Emma Clarke, An­nie Gilchrist, Re­becca Gil­lett, Tahlia Her­man-Watt, Chloe Jones, Re­becca Lake, Meikayla Moore, Gabrielle Ren­nie, Marisa van der Meer Mid­field­ers: Beth El­liott, Macey Fraser, Whit­ney Hep­burn, An­nalie Longo, Mikayla Wieblitz, So­phie Wil­liams For­wards: Mel Cameron, Brit­neylee Ni­chol­son, Aimee Phillips, Arna Roberts, Jayda Ste­wart, Cody Tay­lor Last year: First - four wins, one draw, one loss; 20 goals for, nine against Draw: v WaiBop, Bye, @ North­ern, v South­ern, @ Cap­i­tal, v Auck­land, @ Cen­tral

The de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons have set the bench­mark in re­cent years

and again shape as favourites. Football Ferns squad mem­bers Vic­to­ria Es­son, Meikayla Moore, Aimee Phillips and An­nalie Longo won’t be avail­able ev­ery game, but when they do front, they’ll be cru­cial to the team’s suc­cess. Bren­don Egan

SOUTH­ERN UNITED

Coach: Terry Parle Goal­keep­ers:

Tessa Ni­col, Saman­tha Richards, Mor­gan Whit­son De­fend­ers: So­phie Di­jk­stra, Mikaela Hunt, Kelsey Ken­nard, Coral Seath, Zoe Thomas, Laura Wal­lis Mid­field­ers: So­phie Aitken, Sam Bald­win, Katie Foulkes, Kirsty Hayr, Eleanor Isaac, Holly John­stone, Elise Ma­manu-Gray, Olivia de Ronde, Shon­telle Smith, Eva Zellekens For­wards: Renne Ba­con, Mikayla Gray, Ayns­ley Martin, Emily Mori­son, Lara Wall Last year:

Sev­enth; no wins, six losses; nine goals for, 30 against Draw: v Auck­land, @ Cen­tral, v WaiBop, @ Can­ter­bury, v North­ern, Bye, @ Cap­i­tal

Ev­ery game is a cup fi­nal for South­ern United, who are seek­ing their first win in this com­pe­ti­tion since 2013, when they beat the north­ern-based con­tin­gent of the na­tional un­der-17 side. AV

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