Sydney FC slam-dunk their way into seventh-consecutive Grand Final

A gutsy Sydney FC side played out a 1-1 draw in the second-leg Semi-Final against the Central Coast Mariners, as they progressed to their seventh-consecutive Grand Final winning on aggregate 2-1.  

Sydney FC 1 (Hawkesby 30’) drew w. Central Coast Mariners 1 (Badawiya 42’)

ON AGGREGATE: SYDNEY FC 2 def. Central Coast Mariners 1

Hawkesby celebrates her opener with delighted team-mates.

Moments That Mattered:

14’ IBINI HITS THE CROSSBAR – From a corner, Mackenzie Hawkesby releases it and finds an open Princess Ibini just inside of the six-yard box. She shoots, but the ball ricochets off the crossbar.

30’ HAWKESBY GOAL – Indiana Dos Santos fires the ball into the box and finds Cortnee Vine. She touches it to a running Mackenzie Hawkesby who slickly strikes it into the bottom right corner.

Ibini celebrating

42’ BADAWIYA GOAL – Rola Badawiya receives the ball inside of the box and wrestles with two defenders before turning and planting it in the bottom right corner.

87’ WHYMAN SAVE – Annabel Martin heads a lobbing ball towards the Sky Blues goal and Jada Whyman traps it on the line, denying the Mariners a crucial equaliser.

What They Said: Ante Juric: “I’m just super proud of this first Grand Final for a lot of these girls. They thoroughly deserve it considering the tough year they’ve had.

“Jordan [Thompson] and Charlotte [McLean] in particular were outstanding and did a super job. Their reading of the game and intercepting is something I can’t teach and that probably why I picked them.

“I’m not happy about the goal. We should’ve cleared it and that gave them a bit of a chance.

Margaux Chauvet and Tori Tumeth in post match celebrations

“[Our attacking strategy] worked last week and we knew it was going to work this week because we knew they were going to throw everything at us.

“We decided to sit a bit deeper, and Caley was exceptional when she came on. They were excellent in transition and made good chances. We looked dangerous.”

Match Report:

Sydney FC are one win away from securing back-to-back Championships after drawing with the Central Coast Mariners 1-1, seeing them progress to their seventh consecutive Grand Final 2-1 on aggregate.

All smiles for Ante Juric after the game on a seventh consecutive Grand Final appearance

A goal to Mackenzie Hawkesby, after a picture-perfect touch by Cortnee Vine, was the decisive goal, as the Mariners could not overcome the deficit.

It was a frantic start between both sides, as no team could manufacture long strings of passes.

But after seven minutes of upbeat football, both teams began to work themselves in the contest, with Central Coast controlling possession but Sydney FC dispossessing and then moving swiftly down the field.

The first significant chance fell to the Sky Blues when Mackenzie Hawkesby cut the ball to Princess Ibini, but her shot slammed into the crossbar.

Sydney FC fans packed the hill

Sydney FC began to wrestle the Mariners into their half, slowing the play down as they capitalised on sloppy Central Coast passes.

The Mariners began to gain some attacking momentum, but they could not trouble Jada Whyman, seeing frustration brew.

And moments after an Isabel Gomez yellow, Indiana Dos Santos lofted the ball to Cortnee Vine, who poked it into Mackenzie Hawkesby. The midfielder struck it beyond Casey Dumont, doubling the Sky Blues aggregate to 2-0.

Sydney FC continued to barrage into the Mariners’ final third, restricting Central Coast from any attacking press as they failed to string passes together in the midfield.

However, after a flurry of attacks by the Sky Blues, the Mariners began to create clear-cut chances, and on the cusp of halftime, Rola Badawiya received the ball and muscled her way past two defenders before burying it in the bottom right corner.

Badawiya celebrates scoring

The Mariners looked to slot the equalising goal in the remaining minutes but couldn’t, seeing a lively half nervily finish at 1-1.

With Central Coast needing to get a crucial goal, they started on the front foot, surging into Sydney FC’s final third, and Kyah Simon nearly did provide them with the equaliser when she headed the ball just over the crossbar from a Badawiya cross.

The Mariners continued sniffing Jada Whyman’s goal, exposing holes in the Sky Blues defence.

Hawkesby immediately after opening the scoring

But, Sydney FC shook off Central Coast’s fifteen minutes of high-intensity attack and began to garner some possession of their own.

As nerves descended on a packed Leichhardt crowd, the Sky Blues came closer to a sealer.

When Shea Connors burst through the Central Coast defence and found herself one-on-one with Casey Dumont, screams rang from the stands onto the pitch.

However, Connors could not make a scoreboard impact, seeing the score remain 1-1.

Shea Connors bursting through the Mariners defence

Vine was the next to penetrate the Mariners’ defensive structure when she received a lob from Chauvet and streamed down the right side before laying it off to Hawkesby.

But, the pass hit Hawkesby’s chest, going wide of the right post.

The Sky Blues, now in control, continued to sniff at goal, but with full-time beckoning, Central Coast began to play desperately and nearly got their equaliser through a Martin header. Still, Whyman was there to salvage the ball on the line.

As the fourth official held up six minutes, “COME ON SYDNEY FC” sounded out from the spirited Leichhardt crowd as the Mariners looked to break through Ante Juric’s side’s solid defence.

And, as Georgia Ghirardello blew the final whistle, the Sky Blue girls ran to embrace each other as Sydney FC prevailed in an epic.  

Mariners left devastated

The women will play in the Grand Final next Saturday afternoon in Melbourne or Leichhardt Oval, depending on how Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets play out their second leg. City currently leads 3-0 going into the second leg match tomorrow.

Sydney FC: 1. Jada WHYMAN (GK), 2. Margaux CHAUVET, 3. Charlotte MCLEAN, 4. Tori TUMETH, 11. Cortnee VINE,14. Abbey LEMON, 15. Mackenzie HAWKESBY (6. Lucy JOHNSON 90+), 16. Jordan THOMPSON, 20. Princess IBINI © (9. Shea CONNORS 62’), 21. Shay HOLLMAN 22. Indiana DOS SANTOS (24. Caley TALLON-HENNIKER 82’).

Unused Subs: 30. Tahlia FRANCO (GK), 18. Taylor RAY.

Yellow Cards: None

Red Cards: None

Central Coast Mariners: 92. Casey DUMONT (GK), 2. Faye BRYSON, 3. Ashley IRWIN, 4. Paige HAYWARD (22. Peta TRIMIS 60’), 5. Annabel MARTIN, 6. Isabel GOMEZ, 8. Bianca GALIC, 9. WURIGUMULA (11. Annalise RASMUSSEN 60’), 10. Rola BADAWIYA, 12. Jazmin WARDLOW, 17. Kyah SIMON ©.

Unused Subs: 1. Sarah LANGMAN (GK), 13. Alexia KARRYS-STAHL, 19. Tiarna KARAMBASIS.

Yellow Cards: GOMEZ (30’), BRYSON (45+), WARDLOW (68’)

Red Cards: None

Venue: Leichhardt Oval

Referee: Georgia Ghirardello

Attendance: 7063