With a finals place the prize on offer, the Mariners Women knew what they needed to do and that was to come away from Cook Park St Mary’s with a win over Nepean FC.
Central Coast Mariners Academy Women 1 (Candice Phelan 24’)
Nepean FC Women 1 (Brittany Pelle 56’)
Buoyed by a dominant performance over the same opposition a week ago, Coach Yule was confident as the game commenced.
The loss to injury of regular starters Gabbi Blanch and Georgia Davis was a blow, however talent runs deep in the Mariners squad and the team looked ready for what the locals would throw their way.
From the opening whistle, the plan from Yule was clear, and that was for his talented players to control the midfield via Jade Mcatamney and Oriana Keane and from there press the Nepean defence who were coming off a 1-0 loss last weekend.
Ever present striker Candice Phelan had a prime chance in the opening minutes as she struck a shot from 30 yards out which forced the Nepean FC keeper to scramble, making the save on the second attempt.
As has been the script over the back end of the season, the Mariners launched structured raids placing huge pressure on the Nepean keeper.
The loss of inspirational Captain Oriana Keane after 18 minutes only served to strengthen the Mariners resolve and determination.
Yule's tactics reaped reward in the 24th minute as a midfield through ball put Phelan in possession in front of goals and the striker smashed her shot into the roof of the net for the perfect 1-0 start for the Mariners.
The 39th minute saw the next best chance for the Mariners as Rochelle Johnson fashioned a clever through ball to find Phelan who whipped the ball back across the goal but the ball was just out of reach of a charging and determined Cheyenne Dearie.
Nepean finished the first half with a late charge which was initially cleared off the line by Liz Shorter and the return shot punched desperately and brilliantly to safety by Jess Shulz the Mariners impressive keeper.
The Mariners went into the break 1-0 up and looked well in control.
Although the second half started as the first had finished, it was the home team who found the back of the net after a scrambling run of play.
The second half then turned into a bruising affair as the home team, needing only a draw to go through, bunkered down and kept the bulk of their team behind half way.
Yule screamed for his side to hold the ball and build going forward.
A long injury break gave the locals a chance to regroup and they would hold on for a hard fought draw against a Mariners team that could consider themselves desperately unlucky given their dominance in all areas of the park.
For Mariners coach Mark Yule – despite the loss, it was a positive season for his ladies.
"We finished in last place last year, so to be challenging for the finals this year is sensational. It is one of those things, we just couldn't get over the line." Yule said.
“We talked about starting fast which we did, got the goal that put Nepean FC under the pump but they found an equaliser unfortunately for us,” Yule said.
All in the Mariners camp agreed that this was a very strong season and that the future for Mariners Women’s Academy looks impressive.
Sunday 13h August
Central Coast Mariners Women: 1. SCHULTZ Jess, 2. DUFFY Kate (Hines 75”), 5. WADDELL Letisha, 6. MCATAMNEY, 8. KEANE Oriana(JOHNSON '18), 9. PHELAN Candice, 10. CARMODY Kiah(GRANERO '71), 12. OLIVEIRA Katie,13. DEARIE CHEYANNE, 14. SHORTER Elizabeth, 15. LOPEZ Nubia
Subs not used: 12. Jade-Anne Kroemer and 20. BRADBURY Maddison
Nepean FC: 1. BARTELS Danielle, 2. JACKSON Emma, 4. ELLIOT Jessica(STEDMAN '72), 5. WHEATLEY Ellen, 6. BALLARD Monique, 7. HAARING Stephanie(GALAYINI '78), 12. WADDELL Alix(AXISA '89), 13. VASSALLO Desiree, 19. PELLE Britanny(WHEELER '83), 24. POTTER Bridgette and 25. DAVIDSON Aisling
Subs not used: 20. MALAS Narmin
Yellow cards: Bartels and Elliot
Under 13 CCMA 1 NFC 0
Under 15 CCMA 2 NFC 1
Under 17 CCMA 1 NFC 1
Reserves CCMA 1 NFC 5