Slice of Cheese

Lions and Pirates Full of Belief For Cup Decider

The Kingborough Lions and Taroona Football Club are both eager to make history as they prepare  to clash in the Women’s Statewide Cup Final on Monday and players Eli Cropp and Isabelle Dadswell have said their sides are full of belief heading into the decider.

It’s fair to say that not many would have predicted this match up back in March when the Cup got underway, but there in lies the beauty of Cup football. With Taroona currently sitting in fourth place and Kingborough down in 7th in the Women’s Super League this season, it’s certainly a surprising match up based on league form. Yet despite the indifferent league results, both sides have conjured their best performances this season in the Cup, providing them with a tremendous opportunity to add to their club’s trophy cabinet’s on Monday.

Taroona’s road to the final has been made all the more impressive by the fact that they have been missing three of their key players for the majority of the season, first choice goalkeeper Izzy Ottavi, star midfielder Adelyn Ayton and Club Captain Hanna Manuela, have all been sidelined for extended periods, but despite this, star winger Eli Cropp said their progression came as no surprise to the playing group.

“I don’t think we were surprised to make the final, it was a really competitive semi final, but I think we were confident in the way we played that we could make it.”

“The past couple of weeks have shown the depth that we have in the squad, particularly in how the players are able to rearrange the formation when we need to, to get things done. There is a lot of depth in the squad.”

They certainly did it the hard way, fighting through a tough draw to make the final by defeating Hobart Zebras 6-5 in one of the games of the season in their quarter final, before they held off Olympia to claim a 2-1 win at Warrior Park in the Semi Final. In both games it was Zoe Horgan providing the goals, the young star showing her wonderful set piece taking skills and undoubtedly her performance in midfield on Monday will go a long way to deciding who hoists the cup.

Now just the Lions stand in the Pirates way, and whilst Cropp said she was expecting a tight fought game, she was confident of getting the positive result.

“We’re incredibly excited to play and we’re confident in our preparation. It’s been a while since we played and we have both progressed a lot since then but our last match was really competitive so we expect more of the same in this one.”

Cropp’s addition has helped in the goal scoring department -Solstice Photography

That confidence might stem from Kingborough’s league form, which has been underwhelming, winning just one game for the year, over last placed Clarence. Yet its often said you learn more in defeat than in victory, and versatile defender Isabelle Dadswell said it was their 3-6 defeat against Ulverstone in the Super League the week before their Semi Final that proved the catalyst for their shock semi final triumph. The Lions caused a major upset to bring Ulverstone’s undefeated 2018 to a crashing halt with a lone goal from Emille Tatton enough to bounce the side 6 points clear on top, and send the Lions to the decider.

“From that first game against them we were able to takeaway that we could compete and get a win over them despite not getting the result on the day. We came into the semi looking to use what we had learned in that game in the next one. I think that really helped us and made us confident.” said Dadswell

So what lessons did they learn from their previous meeting with the Pirates? Last time they met, it was the Ashlee Tolman show, the powerful winger scoring four times in a 5-2 win, but Dadswell said there would be no special plans laid for her.

“We aren’t too worried about individuals, we just want to make sure as a team, especially in the back line, that we’re just making sure that we’re working as a team and countering those threats by working together.”

The game was 3-2 at half time that day, and very much in the balance, but whilst the Lions high defensive line helped to constrict other Taroona players, it did give Tolman a lot of room to run into behind and on a bigger pitch like KGV for the final, it’s something they will need to clamp down on or risk a repeat. Their defence has conceded over twice the goals that their opponents Taroona have so far in 2018 and whilst they have the certainly have the firepower to score goals, keeping them out looms as the bigger concern. Olivia Gardner has been in stellar form in goals in the Cup run and she will need to keep up that form to keep the Pirates at bay.

Dadswell said that the cup had brought the best out of the side though and was full of belief the Lions could go one better and make the most of their opportunity.

“I think we’ve had a pretty good run through the tournament, and I think it will be a close one, but I do think that our girls definitely have the capability and the strength to come out on top.”

If they are to come out on top they may well look at Ulverstone’s win over Taroona last week as the blueprint. They were able to unlock the Pirates defence with Lucy Foote playing balls in behind for Jazmin Gorrie’s to run onto. Gorrie’s pace troubled the Taroona defence and the Lions best players have similar traits to the Ulverstone pair. The lively Emille Tatton is their most creative player and capable of bursting from midfield and playing in Laura Davis who has the speed to trouble the tough Dunbabin and Minstrell central defensive pairing of Taroona. Davis has 12 goals in 9 WSL games this season and is her sides key weapon as one of the premiere strikers in the state.

Tatton will be vital to the Lions chances- Solstice Photography

Then it will be on the Lions defence to hold out at the other end. Former Lion Lily Hulton has formed good chemistry in attack with Eli Cropp, but if Taroona have had one problem this season, it has been with profligacy in the final third. If they don’t take their chances and allow the Lions to hang around, then they risk falling into the same trap Ulverstone did in the semi final.

The Pirates are going to enter this one as favourites, their body of work over 2018 has been more impressive, but as the fact 4th is meeting 7th in the final attests to, the favourites don’t always win. This has all the makings of a tight game and with so much young talent on display, the chance for players to announce themselves on the big stage. Both teams will undoubtedly get their chances, it’s highly unlikely one side holds the ascendancy for the majority of the 90 minutes, so whoever is sharper in front of goals will likely take home the silverware. Whatever the outcome, we are going to have a new winner and based on preseason projections, a surprise winner, so here is hoping for an entertaining game and may the best team win.