2023 Champion of Champions Day Three Wrap: Golden girls crowned champions and the boys kick-off their tournament

It was an action-packed day at Coffs Coast Synthetics on Thursday as the vibe and atmosphere lifted to another level as the girls’ finals were contested and the boys’ matches began. 

The girls teams all played one final pool match to kick off the day, with a few spots in the deciders still up for grabs. The five finals followed and all of them were close and entertaining contests. Two matches went to penalty shootouts and another two were decided by just one goal in regulation time. 

20 of the 22 boys’ teams then eased into the tournament with their first pool games throughout the afternoon and they will hit the ground running again on Friday morning as their battle to be crowned Champion of Champions heats up. 

Under-12s Girls: Northern girls Storm away to claim back-to-back championships 

The under-12s girls kicked off day three with their final pool games. Having already qualified for the division’s final, Northern Storm FC and Tilligerry United FC had one eye on the decider, while Kahibah FC and Byron Bay FC were determined to go out on a high. 

Kahibah managed to do exactly that as they scored a dominant 4-1 victory against Tilligerry as Byron Bay went down 1-0 in a close contest against Northern Storm. 

The Storm topped the pool with 12 points following four wins and two losses across the three days. Tilligerry placed second with nine points, Kahibah ran third on eight points and Byron Bay finished fourth with five points. 

Northern Storm and Tilligerry got the tournament’s finals proceedings underway with an 11:30am kick-off for their decider, with the Storm’s Harlow Smith scoring the first finals goal of the week when she put her side ahead in the 19th minute.  

Northern Storm entered the half-time break with the 1-0 lead before Harlow made it 2-0 when she completed a fine brace on the 34-minute mark. The defending under-12s girls champions then held on during the final six minutes to keep a clean sheet and earn the title of champions again with a 2-0 win.

Storm coach Jess Wendt said that her girls enjoyed the 2023 Champion of Champions tournament and did themselves and their club proud. 

“We’ve enjoyed it so much. It’s been amazing,” Wendt said.  

“The girls have loved every minute. They’ve loved dancing in the changerooms to their music, warming up together and cheering on other teams. 

“There’s been some good, strong competition. All the games we played against the other teams have been close games.  

“We had about seven players from the Cyclone girls and about six from the Chasers team come together. So we were a new team and it did actually take us a few games to start playing as a team, but once we did, we’ve played amazing. The girls played perfectly today. 

“They have all loved the facility here. They love the synthetic fields and they really enjoyed playing on the grass fields too. The changerooms have also been amazing. 

“Hopefully this event continues on. This is our second year at Champion of Champions and we hope it keeps going because our girls really look forward to it.” 

Under-13s Girls: Port United win on penalties to be crowned champions 

The two under-13s Girls teams played one last pool match on Thursday morning ahead of their ensuing final later in the day. 

Port United FC went down 4-0 against the eventual under-14s champions Tintenbar East Ballina FC, while Stockton FC were edged out 2-1 by Northern Storm FC’s under-14s team. 

Stockton went into the match having been unable to find the back of the net across the first two days’ play but they managed to do so just four minutes into their last pool game when Drew Heffernan opened the scoring. But the Storm scored late in each half to claim the three points. 

The final got off to a flying start as Port United’s Millahni Moore opened the scoring after just two minutes. That turned out to be the only goal of the first half as Port went into the break leading 1-0. 

Drew Heffernan scored her second goal of the day just two minutes into the second stanza as Stockton levelled the score up at 1-1. That was the way it remained when the full-time whistle sounded as the match went into a penalty shootout. 

Port United managed to hold their nerve and get the job done as they scored three penalty kicks to Stockton’s one to prevail. Charlotte Taylor, Lailah Watson and Millahni Moore all found the back of the net for the champions, while Stockton’s Xanthe Shields scored her side’s successful strike. 

Under-14s Girls: Tintenbar East Ballina keep their sixth straight clean sheet to take out the title 

Tintenbar East Ballina FC and Byron Bay FC went into day three of the tournament having already qualified for the under-14s Girls final but top spot on the under-13/14s table as still on the line. 

It was Tintenbar East Ballina who clinched first place after they scored a dominant 4-0 victory over the Port United FC under-13s side as Byron Bay went down 1-0 against the Sawtell FC under-14s team. 

The other pool match saw Northern Storm’s under-14s side score late in each half to come from behind and beat the Stockton FC under-13s 2-1.  

Sawtell and Northern Storm both went into the day well aware that they could not qualify for the decider but they gave everything until the final whistle as they ended their tournament on a high. 

The undefeated Tintenbar East Ballina team went into the decider having won four games and drawn their other, during which they piled on eight goals and did not concede any. They met rivals Byron Bay in the decider and continued their dominant run as they were crowned champions with a 1-0 victory. 

One of the standout players across the three days’ play, Nikki Settree, netted the winner for her side in the ninth minute as she scored the last goal of the Girls’ tournament two days after she registered the first. 

Under-15s Girls: Cooks Hill crowned undefeated champions following shootout 

Maitland JFC and Cooks Hill United FC entered day three both needing just one point to secure an outright spot in the final and both going one better by scoring 1-0 victories against the under-16s finalists in their fifth and final pool games of the week. 

Cooks Hill downed Coffs City United FC while Maitland edged out Sawtell FC, which saw them finish as the two top-ranked under-15s teams. They placed fourth and fifth on the overall under-15/16s table on seven points, just two behind first-placed Coffs City. 

Remarkably, Cooks Hill were the only undefeated team in the division after they finished on four draws and a win. 

The Garden Suburb FC under-15s team enjoyed a strong start to their must-win match as Emily Chapman opened the scoring against Bellingen FC’s under-16s team. But Bellingen hit back through a 16th-minute own goal and then won the match with a 40th-minute penalty kick to prevail 2-1. 

That result saw Garden Suburb finish the tournament as the lowest-ranked under-15s team and miss on the decider. But they still managed to impress at the tournament, with all four of their losses decided by just one goal. 

Maitland and Cooks Hill’s final was a rematch of the 2022 under-14s decider, which Maitland won 1-0.  

The rematch got underway at 12:20pm and both sides showed early intent as they began to create chances. It was Cooks Hill who took the lead in the 16th minute when Grace Pigram found the back of the net. 

Maitland still trailed 1-0 at the break but struck within a minute of the second stanza getting underway as Addison McQueen netted the equaliser to make the score 1-1. That was the way it remained when the full-time whistle sounded as the match went into a penalty shootout. 

Cianna Courtney and Chloe Hughes scored Cooks Hill’s first two penalty kicks while Maitland missed all of their first three. Sofia Gordon then stepped up to the spot for Cooks Hill’s third and she calmly slotted it past the Maitland goalkeeper and into the back of the net to secure the championship victory for her team.

Gordon was thrilled at full-time, and although she looked quite calm as she netted the match-winner, she admitted she felt nervous as she made the walk from the halfway line during what was her first-ever penalty shootout. 

“It was pretty nerve-wracking, but I think we were all pretty pumped,” Gordon said.  

“I was scared with mine because their goalie is pretty good, but when I scored, I was so excited.  

“Last year we got the loss (in the final against Maitland), so to come back and win this year is pretty good. 

“It’s been so fun; this is the best week. We look forward to it every year.” 

Under-16s Girls: Super Coffs City soar to a well-deserved championship victory 

The three under-16s Girls teams all took on an under-15s opponent in their fifth and final pool games of the tournament early on day three, and only one of them was able to get the job done.  

Bellingen FC came from behind to knock off Garden Suburb FC 2-1, while Coffs City United FC and Sawtell FC were edged out 1-0 by Cooks Hill United FC and Maitland JFC, respectively. 

Despite their losses, Coffs City and Sawtell finished as the two top-ranked under-16s teams and qualified for the final. Coffs City finished on top of the under-15/16 table with nine points following three wins and two losses. Sawtell and Bellingen finished a point back on eight after they both won two games, drew two and lost one. The first tie-breaker for the tournament is head-to-head record so with Sawtell and Bellingen drawing their pool match 0-0, it came down to goal difference. That got Sawtell over the line and into second place. 

The under-16s decider kicked off at midday and Coffs City United showed exactly why they topped the pool ladder as they dominated early. They had the bulk of the possession and they capitalised on their great field position with the game’s first goal in the 18th minute when a Lily Mackay strike proved to be too powerful for the Sawtell goalkeeper. 

That goal eventually separated the sides as Coffs City United got the job done a year after going down 1-0 against Bellingen in the 2022 under-16s Girls decider.

Their coach at this year’s tournament was Brett Hodgekiss, who was thrilled with how they played across the three days and thought that the girls’ hard work and dedication had paid off. 

“It was an amazing week for the under-16 girls from Coffs City United. After taking out the NCF grand final, it capped off a great season for the squad,” Hodgekiss said. 

“The girls thoroughly enjoyed the tournament. The win was fantastic, but more importantly, having fun with mates while playing a sport they love, especially after falling short and losing the final in 2022. 

“I couldn’t be prouder of how the girls have developed in 2023 under some great senior coaches we have at Coffs City United. 

“It was an absolute pleasure to manage the girls through the week after not coaching this year, and see them rewarded for years of hard work.” 

Under-12s Boys: Close contests the order of the afternoon 

The under-12s boys came out firing on Thursday afternoon as they looked to make an early impact in their first game of the tournament. 

Four of the five teams took the field as Coffs City United FC sat out with a bye.

The two matches saw Iona SC Bulls edge out Alstonville FC 1-0, and Northern Storm FC down Bellingen FC 2-1. 

These teams will all play against each other once before Sunday’s first-versus-second final, and the teams will be determined to put themselves in a position to finish in the top two when they take the field again today. 

Under-13s Boys: Dazzling football and goals galore as the Boys take the field 

The under-13s were the first Boys division to play at this year’s tournament and they began with a bang. It took just three minutes for the first goal to fly in as Iona SC Roar’s Theodore Dazell put his side ahead against Nelson Bay FC, before he then doubled the lead four minutes into the second stanza before his side netted two more goals to open the tournament with a 4-0 win.

Coffs City United FC won their opening game 1-0 against Norths United FC thanks to a successful Tyrell Jeffs penalty kick on the stroke of half-time while Alstonville FC came from behind to knock off Valentine FC 4-1. 

The fourth under-13s Boys match was played in a later timeslot and it was won by Maitland JFC who downed Iona SC Victory 2-0. 

Four of the eight teams will kick off the day four action today from 9am and the other four will line up immediately after as they all look to settle into the tournament and start the day on the front foot before they back up for a game each during the afternoon. 

Under-14/15s Boys: Alstonville and Coffs City United start strongest 

Two of the four under-14/15s Boys teams combined to score seven goals in clean sheet victories during their first games of the tournament on Thursday. 

Alstonville FC’s under-15s team downed Byron Bay FC’s under-14s team 2-0 while Coffs City United FC’s under-14s team registered a dominant 5-0 victory over Woolgoolga United FC’s under-15s side. 

Being a four-team division, these teams will all play against one another once. They will have reached the halfway point of the pool games this afternoon after they have all contested their second and third games. 

Under-16s Boys: Dominant defence headlines a low-scoring afternoon  

Four of the five under-16s Boys sides were in action on day three as Bellingen FC sat out with the bye ahead of their first game this morning. 

Two low-scoring games were contested on Thursday afternoon as the side’s defences proved to be strong. Bolwarra Lorn JSC and Coffs Coast Tigers FC played out a 1-1 draw while Bangalow SC edged out Port United FC 1-0. 

Bangalow and Bolwarra Lorn both have byes during day four of the tournament today and will play one game each. The other three sides will all play two matches and are determined to put themselves  

Explainer: How the Champion of Champions works

The Northern NSW Football Champion of Champions tournament brings together the best youth community football teams from across our seven Member Zones top competitions, to challenge for the title of Champion of Champions in their age group!

In a change to previous formats, in 2023 all clubs are invited to enter any teams currently competing in their Member Zone’s top division and challenge for the title of Champion of Champions.

The final format, number of competing teams and age groups are finalised and advised once all registrations have been received.

More about the 2023 Champion of Champions tournament can be found HERE.

Key Champion of Champions Information:

  • See the fixtures and results for 2023 Champion of Champions HERE

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