By Beth Newman
SEQ’s top female footballers will fight it out for the ultimate prize from this weekend, with finals kicking off on Sunday.
Split into two divisions for the first time this season, there’s plenty of female footy action on display.
Heading the action is a blockbuster clash between the ladder-leading Yeronga and Coorparoo.
The Devils have managed to go through the regular season undefeated, but only held off the Navy Roos by three points in their last meeting, a fortnight ago.
Devils coach Nicola Zammit, said they would be well-prepared for anything Coorparoo threw at them in their grand final qualifier.
“Nothing is certain. It will be hardest game of the season,” she said.
The defending premiers know what it takes to make it in the finals, with most of their team having gone through last year’s finals, but Zammit said that would not give her side a major advantage on Sunday.
“I think both teams will think they know how to beat the other team after the last time we played,” she said.
“It will be a tight game. There’s no particular position that we will dominate in or they’re going to dominate in, I don’t think.”
While Coorparoo are a slightly less experienced side but Coorparoo coach, Damien Richards, said Coorparoo would take confidence from their past meetings with Yeronga.
“I think our side’s at a level where we can beat them so I don’t think it’ll (the experience) impact too much,” he said.
“We should have a pretty good chance.”
Richards said his side’s evenness would help going into the match.
“We play really well as a team, we don’t’ have any individuals so if they cut out one of us they’ll step up and ball movement and playing to our strengths.”
Zammit said the depth of the Navy Roos side meant they couldn’t just focus on the quelling the influence of a couple of key players, such as Emma Zielke.
“We’ll have to make sure we’re close down not just those key players but there’s another 10 that are just as good,” she said.
“It’s not going to matter, someone else will step up. They’ve been coached very well.”
Yeronga and Coorparoo have been the two standout sides this season and this weekend’s final should showcase the best that they have to offer.
The winner of the second semi-final will clinch a spot in the grand final, and a crucial week off.
ZILLMERE v KEDRON
It’s do-or-die for Kedron and Zillmere, in the first Division 1 semi-final on Sunday.
Zillmere has plenty of talent, with a number of state representatives, and have been to the top before, having paved this path to the grand final only last season.
The Eagles’ young midfield brigade, that includes Ally Anderson and Taylah Harris, will be the key in the match, and Kedron coach Ron Kemp said his side would be wary of those.
“They’ve got a couple of really good players,” he said.
“If we’re patient and controlled the pace of the gamer and the movement of the footy then we have a chance to dictate the scoring,” he said.
Despite going in as rank outsiders, Kemp said his side was optimistic of causing an upset.
“We go in with the attitude we’ve got nothing to lose and that we just give it all we can,” Kemp said.
“We’ve been in the contest twice with them this year and we just let ourselves down by losing a bit of focus and on the game and they’ve taken advantage of that.”
With Zillmere having beaten Kedron in all their mettigns this season, by sizeable margins, the Eagles will be looking to continue that record on Sunday, but coach Geoff Webster said he wouldn’t’ be letting his charges get ahead of themselves.
“We played well, the last couple of times we’ve played them this year. I’m just trying to ram home that the last time we played them that they outscored us in two of the four quarters that we played,” he said.
“Once we got on top of them, we dominated them, but we can’t get complacent.”
Webster said his side would be looking to use its speed and midfield strength to its advantage against Kedron, who are a slightly bigger-bodied side.
Webster said his side would draw on its experiences from last season going into this elimination clash against the Lions.
“Last year they were in that position (sudden death) and there is a n expectation they’ll do that again,” Webster said.
“We’re going in very confident, but we’re guarding against complacency.”
Kedron take on Zillmere at 12:00pm at Yeronga on Sunday in the first semi-final.
Palm Beach has been the side to beat in the Division Two competition, and it will take an on-song Logan to stop them from qualifying for a grand final on Sunday.
The Lions and Cobras face off in the second semi-final, with the winner clinching a grand final spot and a week off.
Logan coach, Fred Meddings, said he was well aware of the challenge that faces his team this weekend.
“Their structures are really good and once they get a run on it’s difficult,” he said.
Meddings called on his charges to give it everything against the Lions in their finals match.
“I’m hoping they realise it’s time to step up and have a real dip,” he said.
“Finals footy’s always different footy and I’d like them to come with their game.
“It’s a privilege to play finals. It doesn’t always happen, you know.”
Palm Beach might be on top of the ladder, but coach, Indy Sleeth, said her side would not be taking anything for granted come Sunday.
“Logan have put the most pressure on us so I’m not underestimating them,” she said.
“They’re really good in defence and attack but I think we’re a bit stronger in the midfield.”
Sleeth said the Lions were disappointed to miss out on the top division, when the competition was split last month, but are excited to challenge for a flag.
“We’re excited to be in contention,” Sleeth said.
“We were disappointed to be in the second division, but we’ve enjoyed ourselves so far.”
Led by Queensland representative, Leah Kaslar, the Lions have plenty of guns in their side and will be more than a tough proposition for Logan come Sunday.
Adair Henderson and twins Stephanie and Madeline Barnett will be key players for the Cobras, and Sleeth said they would be looking to shut the trio down on Sunday.
GRIFFITH MOOROOKA v UQ
Two of the biggest improvers in 2013 will take each other on in the first Division Two semi-final on Sunday.
Griffith Moorooka, who came off a winless 2012 to finish with a 5-7 record this season and set up a meeting with UQ in the match on Sunday.
The Reds coach, Adam Fry, said while he wasn’t keen to dwell on last season, he was amazed at the difference in the side this year.
“It’s been incredible,” Fry said.
“Having a bit more structure around the team and being able to settle players in, it’s just been great.”
The home side will not be caught unawares by a vastly improved Red Lionesses side, who went within three kicks of victory in their last clash, though.
That match was a far cry from their first meeting in Round three, where the Reds got up by three figures.
Fry said the students would be a future force in the women’s league, with their blistering pace and strong midfield linkage core pillars of their success.
“It’s definitely going to be tough, the second time were a whole different story to the first -they really beat us up with their pace,” Fry said.
“They’re a much improved side.”
“I think they’re going to be a powerhouse in the future.”
While the students lack a real superstar, Fry said their even spread across the ground and ability to punish sides with their quick transition would be danger enough.
“I wouldn’t say there’s anyone in particular we are looking to shut down, we just need to stop the pace,” he said.
“They’ve got terrific pace and their ability to link on handball can just split you in half.”
In their first year in the competition, UQ started out simply focusing on improving its young side and building a team.
But now, with their season on the line, Red Lionesses coach, Nick Kent, said the side was ready to show it was more than just making up the numbers.
“The improvement in our side has been exponential this season,” he said.
“The girls have improved to a point that I don’t think they even realise.
“With finals, everything comes down to now and it is a lot about the result and progressing to next week,” he said.
Kent said he would be focusing on encouraging his side to take their chances and back themselves on Sunday.
Regardless of the result, though, Kent said he hoped playing in a final would be a great learning experience for the young side.
“It’s cut throat and I hope the more finals they play, the more experience they have and hopefully that also increases the enthusiasm for girls wanting to come back next year,” he said.
“It’s been a good season, win or lose on Sunday.
“We’ve built a culture for women’s footy at the club and that’s a credit to the girls and coaches and everyone at the club.”
With Griffith forward, Jenna Van Dyk back in the Reds side since their last clash, it will be a tougher assignment for the red Lionesses, who will be keen to show they’ve improved another level.
Griffith and UQ face off in the first semi-final at 12:00pm on Sunday at Moorooka.