Coastal Spirit know they are underdogs in this weekend’s NZ Football Foundation Kate Sheppard Cup final but they don’t have to look too far to find inspiration of what is possible.
In 2018, Dunedin Technical arrived as considerable underdogs in their final against Forrest Hill Milford United but they delivered an incredible performance to secure a 4-2 victory and their first ever win in the knockout cup.
Eastern Suburbs, the reigning Northern Women’s Premier League champions after a superb season, are the bookies’ favourite to win the title for the first time but Coastal Spirit are making the long trip north believing that anything is possible.
“Absolutely, they [Duneduin Technical] have shown us how to do it. We had the chance to bury Dunedin Tech in the quarter-finals as the last two teams from the South Island,” Coastal Spirit coach Juan Chang Urrea says.
“We had a chat to their coach after that game and that is exactly what he said. They always believed they could win. We have been watching some of those games. What they did last year is a great example for us. They created history and why not for us as well?”
Chang Urrea says they have huge respect for Eastern Suburbs but there is no lack of confidence in his team.
“Our preparation has been awesome. We have been looking forward to this game for a while. It is very exciting. We are very grateful to be in this position,” he says.
“We all know that Eastern Suburbs are a very strong team, everyone knows their quality. It is going to be a challenging game. It is 11 v 11 and it is one game. Will it be challenging? Absolutely. But to be fair every game has been a challenge for us. We just need to go up there and do our best.”
Coastal Spirit (2013), Dunedin Technical (2018) and Nomads United (1994) are the only three teams from the South Island to have won the Kate Sheppard Cup since it was introduced 25 years ago and Chang Urrea is keen to see the silverware stay down south.
“We are working to do that. That is exactly what the girls are focused on. At the end of the day, it is all about the girls and they all know they have an awesome opportunity on Sunday as we look to reclaim the title and bring it back to the South Island.”
The Christchurch-based side showed great character in their last two games in the cup. In the quarter-finals they knocked out defending champions Dunedin Technical 6-4 on penalties.
They went on to win their semi-final against Wellington United away from home. Both teams could not be separated after full time and captain Chloe Jones stepped up in extra time to secure the 1-0 win.
In doing so, Coastal booked their place in their first Kate Sheppard Cup final since 2013, which they won against Glenfield Rovers at English Park in Christchurch.
“Every game has been hard, no one is easy. This team has shown a lot of heart, hard work and character to get to this final. They just keep going and going so all of the credit goes to them.”
Chang Urrea says they must make the most of their chance of claiming some national silverware.
“Winning this title means a huge amount. Everyone around the club is talking about it. We all know that the first time we won it was in 2013 and now many years later we have a chance to do it again.
“We know that finals days don’t come every year so we have to make the best out of it and we have to take our chance. A lot of these girls have been around for a while so they know what it would mean for the club.”
Coastal Spirit (from): 1. Una Foyle, 2. Jasmine Donald, 3. Rebecca Lake, 4. Arna Roberts, 6. Chloe Jones (c), 7. Chloe Webster, 8. Cody Taylor, 11. Melissa Gallardo Mansilla, 12. Lauren Dabner, 13. Whitney Hepburn, 16. Katie Millis, 17. Maggie Anderson, 18. Junghwi Jo, 20. Ellena Firth, 21. Bel van Noorden
Coach: Juan Chang Urrea
Eastern Suburbs (from): 1. Corina Brown, 2. Kate Carlton, 3. Erinna Wong, 4. Leah Mettam, 5. Rebekah van Dort (c), 6. Annie Byrne, 7. Lucy Carter, 8. Tayla O’Brien, 10. Jade Parris, 11. Hannah Hoeksema, 12. Emily Gillion, 15. Shania Heath, 17. Hannah Pilley, 18. Caiti Adams, 19. Ella Findlay, 20. Eloise Robinson
Coach: Mauro Donoso
National Cup Finals Day
NZ Football Foundation Kate Sheppard Cup Final
Coastal Spirit vs Eastern Suburbs
Sunday 8 September, 12pm
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Final
Melville United vs Napier City Rovers
Sunday 8 September, 3pm
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
Both games live on SKY Sport