Women’s State Cup Review: Magpies swoop to win back cup from Azzurri

Maitland reclaimed the Women’s State Cup after defeating reigning champions Charlestown Azzurri 2-0 in the final at Speers Point on Sunday afternoon. 

The 2021 Women’s State Cup winners were out to avenge their defeat to Charlestown in last year’s final.  

Azzurri came out the stronger of the two sides but were unable to capitalise on early chances.  

Sophie Stapleford opened the scoring for the Magpies in the 10th minute after Azzurri’s goalkeeper Mia Wallace was unable to maintain possession of the ball. Lucy Kell whipped in a strong cross towards Stapleford which Wallace saved before fumbling the ball to Stapleford who was waiting to tap the ball into the back of the net.  

The contest continued to heat up, with a physical battle between both sides on display.  

A superb Madison Gallegos free kick allowed Bronte Peel to take Maitland’s lead to 2-0 with almost the final kick of the game Gallegos struck the ball from half-way to Azzurri defender Maddison Thornton who headed the ball right into the path of Peel to finish the job for the Magpies.  

Maitland coach Keelan Hamilton was delighted for his club to take the cup home once again.  

“It’s nice always to win a trophy,” Hamilton said. 

“Over the course of the weekend I thought we deserved it and saw contributions from every single player in the group of 24 that we named.” 

Hamilton and captain Stapleford were both pleased with the performance from the entire squad, not just in the final but  over the whole three-day tournament. 

“I thought we stayed more composed than the opponent, we defended really well and took our chances when we could,” Hamilton said.  

“We’ve tried to build a deep squad as a clear plan from us. Those opportunities were earnt from players in lower grades.”  

Despite stating there was no rivalries between the Magpies and Azzurri heading into the weekend, Hamilton could not deny the competition starting to grow between the two sides.   

“I think Azzurri are a very competitive side and definitely there is a bit of rivalry building here at the State Cup,” Hamilton said.  

Magpies captain Stapleford said Maitland had an “incredible” squad which she was incredibly proud of. 

Azzurri coach Niko Papaspiropoulosis was unhappy to not be walking away with the silverware but could not discredit the way each player in his squad performed over the three-day event.  

“I am disappointed with the result but happy with how the girls approached the game,” Papaspiropoulosis said.  

“I thought we played well but again the lapse in concentration cost us. Sometimes things just don’t go your way.”  

“All of the girls that have stepped up this weekend played really well. None of the girls looked out of place.”  

In the Community Plate, Cooks Hill United FC defeated Coffs City United FC 1-0 in the final to cap an impressive weekend for the club.  

Cooks Hill dominated  the first half, with Gabrielle Brodie scoring the winning goal in the 15th minute. Coffs City had the majority of possession in the second half but were unable to get the job done, missing two crucial chances to level the match.  

Cooks Hill coach Michael Best was pleased to finally take home the plate after going down in the finals in  2021 and 2022.  

“The squad is really happy to get the result, we played well,” Best said. 

“It’s a monkey off the back, we’ve lost two in a row so it’s good to finally win it.”  

One side that blew expectations out of the water in the tournament was Lake Cathie FC.  

The side became the first community team to reach the Women’s State Cup semi-finals in the history of the competition, defeating NPL Women’s NNSW sides New Lambton FC and Broadmeadow Magic FC to win their group.  

Unfortunately, Lake Cathie’s finals chances were blown after losing 4-2 to Charlestown Azzurri in the semi-final.   

But coach Craig Bulmer was thrilled with his side’s performances and already has his sights set on taking home the cup in 2024.  

“It feels amazing to make it so far. I could not be prouder of the girls,” Bulmer said.   

“We don’t have facilities like this at home, so to be able to play on a pitch like this against some of the best opponents in northern NSW was an amazing experience for both the team and me as a coach. 

“We will be back next year, 100 per cent. We are coming for it.”  

The NPL Women’s NNSW competition resumes this weekend with the eight teams heading into round 15.