Although Western NSW Mariners FC moves into a brave new world after earning promotion to this year’s women’s Football NSW National Premier League 2, the outfit does have the benefit of opening its 2018 campaign against familiar faces.
The Mariners face University of NSW in Sunday’s season opener, a side which was also granted promotion and, coincidentally, the same outfit that knocked Western NSW out of last year’s State League race by handing it a 2-0 defeat in the final round.
“Quite a few sides from State League have come up so we’re not (heading in blind), but who knows, UNSW might have a whole bunch of new players too and we’re going to find out about every side the first time we play them,” Western star Jasmin Courtenay, also a former Newcastle Jet, said.
“We’d like to get a win over them after they knocked us out last season.”
Well aware of the challenges promotion to NPL2 will bring, Courtenay says her side’s end goal won’t change too much.
“Our mindset stays the same in terms of going as far as we can,” Courtenay said.
“I definitely think we can give all the teams in this competition a really good run for their money, at the very least.”
Her side comes into Sunday’s first round on the back of mixed results in pre-season trials. But, Courtenay said, those practice games aren’t all about results and there’s positive signs.
Western NSW is expected to be without stars Meaghan Kempson and Poorsha Mcphillamy though.
“We’ve had a win, a draw and a loss, but the pre-season’s been really good. The trials have been really positive and what we’ve been working on at training we’ve been putting into practice in those games, which is good,” she said.
“As far as I know those two are out, they leave pretty big holes in our midfield, but we’ve got some great players who will come in and hold their own there, so I think we’ve got enough depth to cover them.
“We’re playing a similar structure to last season, but we’ve really been working on getting that third player running to try and get in behind teams’ defence.
“Hopefully we can do that and it helps us get some shots away, and score a few goals.”
Kick-off in the top grade is scheduled for 3pm, after reserves (1.05pm), under 17s (11.30am), under 15s (9.55am) and under 14s (8.30am).
All the games are at Sydney’s David Phillips Complex. The Mariners’ first home game is in round two, at Lithgow.