Michael Ying Sing
Charlestown Azzurri FC have won the 2022 Women’s State Cup after defeating reigning champions Maitland 2-0 in the final at Speers Point on Sunday.
Azzurri dominated their group stage Newcastle Olympic, Kempsey Saints FC and the inaugural NNSWF Indigenous Women’s side before defeating Adamstown Rosebud 2-0 in their semi-final.
Maitland put on a similarly strong performance throughout their group stage against New Lambton FC, University of Newcastle Women’s FC, Toronto Awaba JFC and Port Macquarie United FC.
The holders convincingly won their semi-final 3-0 against Mid Coast FC before meeting Charlestown in the final.
Both sides came out strong, putting on final worthy performances in an attempt to take the win. It was not until the second half that Azzurri kicked it up a notch and sealed the win with goals to Brianna Williams and mid-season signing Indianna Asimus.
Azzurri coach Niko Papaspiropoulos set a precedent for what is expected of the team for the remainder of the NPL Women’s NNSW competition.
“We hope more than anything that the win sort of sets a precedent for how we want to finish our season because we’ve still got plenty of work ahead of us in the regular season and we want to be there at the end,” Papaspiropoulos said.
“Hopefully this sets the mentality and the approach we want to have for the rest of the season.”
Papaspiropoulos was happy to get the win and was proud of his team’s performance over the weekend to get to that point.
“The girls have done well over the weekend,” Papaspiropoulos said.
“It’s been a big weekend for them and they did really well. I’m very proud of them.”
The weekend also saw an opportunity for clubs to give some of their reserve grade and under-17s players some game time.
“It was great that a fair few reserve grade and 17s girls got a little bit more game time amongst some of our first grade girls and just being able to rotate players and try a few things was great,” Papaspiropoulos said.
It was Charlestown Azzurri’s first trophy since Merewether United’s women’s teams transitioned to the club at the start of last season.
The wet conditions did little to dampen spirits at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility, with Magpies coach David Walker offering nothing but praise for the three-day tournament and the camaraderie all clubs showed toward one another.
“The experience of being at the tournament was great,” Walker said.
“The overall spirit that everyone played with, from all clubs, all players and all coaches was great. There was plenty of camaraderie and it was a really great experience for everyone.”
After putting on a strong performance all weekend, Walker was disappointed to go so close to back to back titles but was proud of his squad’s showing nonetheless.
“It really was a brilliant weekend for the whole squad,” Walker said.
“It was just one little blip right at the end in the last sort of 15 minutes of the whole weekend. To Charlestown’s credit, they made it all the way to the end and capitalised on the conditions of the match a little more in the end.
“Obviously disappointed not to get the win but I’m proud of the players and I think they represented the club well.”
Mid Coast did well to get to the semi-finals, beginning with a 0-0 draw against Cooks Hill United. Middies then went on to defeat Raymond Terrace 9-0 and Broadmeadow Magic 2-0 in the group stage.
Mick Grass’s side went down 3-0 to Maitland in the semi-final, ending their chances of hoisting the silverware.
“We wanted to get as far as we could in the tournament but I don’t think we turned up with our best game for the semi-final,” Grass said.
“Not saying we would have changed the result but I think we should have been able to make the result a lot closer than it was.”
Despite bowing out in the semis, Grass was proud of his team’s overall performance over the weekend.
“I was pretty happy with how the team performed over the weekend and making the semi-finals is a reasonable achievement,” Grass said.
In the community plate, Urunga Raiders FC defeated Cooks Hill United FC 4-0 in the final to cap an impressive weekend for the North Coast Football club.
The NPL Women’s NNSW competition resumes this weekend with the eight teams heading into round 15.