Midfield key to grand final
ITALO STARS and Bangalow have dominated Far North Coast women's premier league soccer this season, leaving them poised for a fitting but unpredictable grand final at South Lismore tonight.
While Stars won the minor premiership, they had a surprise 4-0 loss to Bangalow in the major semi-final.
That meant they had to overcome a spirited Richmond Rovers 3-2 with a goal in extra time of the preliminary final to earn a re-match with their arch rivals.
Both sides play an attacking game and are strong in midfield, with Stars led by this year's Player of the Year and joint Golden Boot winner Martene Wallace.
Wallace is the most decorated player in the history of the local game, winning the Player of the Year four times and Golden Boot five times, a record unmatched by any other player, female or male.
Her combination with Carlee Powell and Katie Field in midfield has been integral to Stars' success, along with the form of dangerous striker Hayley McAnelly.
Bangalow also boast a formidable midfield combination in Tenneille Shaw, Chloe Dunsmore and Rose Argent, with joint Golden Boot winner Hollie Jarrett up front.
Both coaches are predicting a tight contest.
“We're confident despite the 4-0 loss in the semi, but Bangalow is a very good side and we know it's going to be tough, especially in midfield,” Stars coach Darren Cormick said.
Bangalow's Joel Rudgley agreed.
“It's always close when we play Stars, but I think it will be won and lost in midfield, that's where the key players are for both sides.”
The game starts at 8pm.
It will be preceded by the second division grand final from 6.15pm, when minor premiers Goonellabah will be looking to complete the prem-iership double by beating defending major premiers Tumbulgum.