NPL Women's NNSW Finals Week One Preview: Olympic are ready to rumble against Magic, while the Magpies and Azzurri fight to stay alive 

Qualifying Final:  
Magic Park, Friday 8:15pm  
Broadmeadow Magic FC v Newcastle Olympic FC 

Broadmeadow Magic will host Newcastle Olympic in an electric qualifying final at Magic Park on Friday night.  

It has always been a heated contest between these two sides and  

The winner of the weekend will earn the week off and progress straight into the grand final, while the loser must battle it out against the winner of the Maitland and Charlestown Azzurri clash for a place in the big dance.  

The premiers know the importance of winning this weekend, with coach Jake Curley and his side out for nothing less than three points.  

“We are feeling pretty good. The girls are happy that we finished with the premiership. We are very confident,” Curley said.  

“It is very important for us to win this weekend. It would be great to get straight through this weekend. 

“It’s a big game.” 

Magic believes that they will have to be at their best against Olympic and are preparing for a strong contest.  

“Olympic are a good team, it will be a tight match,” Curley said.  

“It was good to give players a rest. Everyone is available this weekend. 

“We just have to focus on what we are going to do.” 

Curley is aware of some changes within the Olympic side but knows the depth that their squad possesses.  

“When Olympic have players out, other girls come in, step up and do a really good job,” Curley said.  

Olympic are heading into the finals feeling confident, with three consecutive competition wins and a Women’s League Cup final win under their belt.  

Coach Neil Owens is looking forward to a competitive match-up against Magic under lights and is eager for his side to reap the benefits of winning on Friday.  

“We have been on a good roll for a while now,” Owens said.  

“Really looking forward to Friday night. 

“It’s a big prize to have the week off and go straight to the grand final. 

“It will be a tight game no matter what. It will come down to whoever can control the game and who can finish and score. Both teams will have their opportunities.”  

Star striker Jemma House will be unavailable for Olympic this weekend, travelling to the United States to be inducted into the Laramie Country Community College 2023 Hall of Fame Class.   

But Owens is glad that she has the opportunity to be rested for a week, after she was forced from the field with an ankle injury in last weekend’s match against Charlestown Azzurri.  

“The weekend off won’t hurt Jemma. Her injury isn’t too bad but it will be good for her to have a week off,” Owens said.  

Olympic’s gaffer is confident in the attacking form of the other players in his side and that they have what it takes to get the job done.  

“We don’t just rely on Jemma to score goals,” Owens said.  

“A lot of people are scoring goals and we aren’t conceding many which is great. 

“I have swapped and changed the team around all year so the should be well prepared. 

“Everyone has been sharing the load and scoring goals. We still have the gun and the bullets.”  

In looking at Magic’s attacking threats, Owens wants his side to worry more about their own performances and defensive efforts instead of getting caught up on the opposition.   

“It’s obvious that AJ (Adrianna Konjarski) scores goals and Lucy (Jerram) and Chelsea (Lucas) bang them in,” Owens said.  

“You can’t concentrate on one person. We just need to worry about our own formation, shape and how we set up. 

“Know your role and know who you will be defending and go out and execute your own game. 

“You just have to play and be ready to rumble.”  

Elimination Final:  
Maitland FC v Charlestown Azzurri FC 
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 4:45pm 

Maitland will go head-to-head with Charlestown Azzurri in a do-or-die clash at Cooks Square Park on Saturday afternoon.  

The winner of the match will face the loser of the qualifying final which will be Olympic or Magic, and the team that is defeated on Saturday will be knocked out of the competition. 

The Magpies coach Keelan Hamilton and his side are excited for the club’s first finals series since entering the competition in 2021.  

“We are in a good space. We are happy to be a part of it and are looking forward to the weekend,” Hamilton said.  

“It’s been a really successful season to date. 

“To run third is a really good achievement for us and to be right in touch with the two teams above us. 

“I am really proud of the group, not just the first-grade players but the whole squad and seeing how they have improved throughout the season.” 

Hamilton knows how high the stakes are in this must-win clash but is confident that his side’s positive form this season will help them to get a result against Azzurri.  

“It’s important to win because if we don’t win our season is over,” Hamilton said. 

“Performance leads to winning games. I don’t buy the cliché that it’s okay to win ugly. Sometimes that happens but you need more than that to be successful. 

“I think we have a lot of belief in ourselves. We are not naive.”   

“I would expect it will be a tight game again. Both teams are aware of the stakes. 

“Charlestown in their history have always been a very determined opponent.” 

Tahlia Gossner returned last weekend from a hamstring injury and is expected to start again against Azzurri but other injuries throughout the squad continue to plague the Magpies.  

Madeline Howard and Ainsley Childs will remain unavailable with injuries while Hamilton said it is “highly unlikely” that goalkeeper Imogene Tomasone will return this weekend while still recovering from a back injury.  

Despite missing key personnel, Hamilton remains positive  

“We do have a few injuries that have happened at the wrong time of the season but we won’t be using that as an excuse,” Hamilton said.  

“There are some specific things that we want to improve on and have done our homework on Charlestown but it I more about what we do than what the opponent does.”  

Charlestown Azzurri has had a less-than-ideal run into the finals, suffering a 0-4 and 0-5 defeat in the last two rounds and giving away two penalties against Newcastle Olympic.  

But coach Niko Papaspiropoulos is not worried about his side’s recent form, believing that they are ready for finals football and their recent mistakes can be fixed.  

“I mean finals football itself is totally different. I don’t think form has to come into it,” Papaspiropoulos said.  

“Mentality is the biggest thing and has let us down lately. 

“I know we conceded two against Olympic but generally speaking throughout the year we haven’t given many penalties away. 

“We just need to be mindful of giving away penalties inside the box. We need to be mindful and disciplined with how we react. But we don’t need to let it get into our heads.” 

Papaspiropoulos says that they are looking forward to a competitive clash with Maitland and has told his players to give it their all as they plan to go all the way to the grand final.  

“All of our games against Maitland have been close and tight battles. It won’t be any different this weekend. They are a good team and well coached by Keelan,” Papaspiropoulos said.  

“Regardless of the opposition, we want to embrace the challenge of finals football as well as enjoy it. 

“We obviously want to go all of the way. We have nothing to lose. They can leave everything on the table. Pressure isn’t enough we have to give it everything we’ve got.” 

In a big blow for Azzurri, defender Lori Depczynski is suspended for two matches due to her accumulation of yellow cards throughout the season. Katie Oliveria is in doubt for this weekend’s match, after suffering a knock in the game against Olympic.  

But Sarah Halvorsen and Nikki Jones are expected to return to the first-grade side from injuries. Azzurri are also hopeful that Lara Gooch will get more minutes after returning off the bench from an ankle injury last weekend.  

Despite both teams missing key players, this must-win clash will be an unmissable match-up.