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East Gosford v Woongarrah

Reigning WPL Premiers East Gosford will play their first home game of the season as they welcome the Woongarrah Wildcats who return to WPL this year and will be looking to make a statement against the 2023 Grand Final winners.  

The Rams got their season off to a terrific start, defeating a notable Killarney side 6-0 away from home. It was a busy off-season for Jorge Chavez who lost two of his best players in the 2023 WPL Golden Boot winner Kelly Hogan and also her attacking counterpart Tahlor Thackray who was awarded the 2023 WPL Player of the Year.

“Like is the case with football when you win a Grand Final, players move on to different challenges. We have got a new squad this year, our goal is to always finish in the top four and play finals football for the third season in a row,” explained Chavez.

“I do believe we have the squad that can gel and push for a top-two finish again this year and make the grand final which is our ultimate goal always.”

Having two of his most talented and experienced players leave the club was always going to leave a big hole, but Jorge has brought in multiple talented players to fill that gap on the field as his side looks to defend their crown of Premiers in 2024.

Jessica Dominello, Laura Mundy, and Emma Hurley are among the names Jorge has been able to lure to the club, all of which hit the ground running in their opening fixture last weekend against the Terriers.

Dominello, Mundy, and Hurley were all able to find themselves on the scoresheet as the Rams finished the opening round at the top of the WPL ladder.

Having also played a Sapphire Cup contest midweek, Chavez gave us an insight into how his team has pulled up as well as what he is anticipating from the WPL competition this season.

“The team has pulled up well from our two games last week.”

“With so much player movement in the off-season, I’m hopeful that teams like Kincumber, Killarney and Woongarrah will be more competitive this year.”

Now with their sights set on the WPL newcomers, East Gosford will welcome a familiar face back to Hylton Moore as their goalscoring machine Kelly Hogan will line up for the Wildcats in 2024, a threat Jorge Chavez and his team are looking forward to the challenge of.

“The girls are super excited to face Woongarrah. We know what Kelly Hogan can bring to a team and our backline will have to be on point this weekend to make sure Kelly does not get on the scoresheet.”

“In saying that, as a team, we will look more to see what we can do to make sure we get the three points and that’s to play more possession style football and create more chances in front of goal.”

After some time away from the field, Woongarrah will be itching to step on the pitch come kick-off on Sunday afternoon after having their round 1 fixture postponed, the Wildcats then had a bye in round 2.

For a new team that has returned to the WPL, this is far from ideal, especially when your opening match of the year is against the current premiers. Despite an inconvenient start to the competition. Woongarrah head coach Kaine Harmsworth states that pre-season for his side has been great.

“The team is putting in a massive effort at training, trying to get consistency through the combinations that we are testing.”

As for what he is anticipating from the competition and his goals for the year ahead, Harmsworth voiced, “⁠It’s a big year for building and maturing the junior girls we have kept. The squad is a majority of our under 18’s from last year plus welcoming the experienced heads in.”

“Gaining consistency and aiming to compete the best we can week in and week out, would be great to play finals football but consistency is key.”

⁠“For us, it’s allowing our girls to experience the top level of football on the Coast and challenge ourselves week in and week out to be the best we can be and learn from the experience that we will seek and gain throughout the year,” spoke Harmsworth.

Not only was Harmsworth able to attract Kelly Hogan to his squad, but Kelly’s sister Chloe also joined the team. Chloe brings a wealth of experience, having spent the past four years at North Epping Premier League in Sydney as the captain of her squad.

Janelle Oliveira has also made a return to the Wildcats, leaving their local rivals Kanwal to lace up the boots at Hamlyn Terrace once again. These signings will bring a magnitude of experience to this young squad who will be out to make the most of the club’s return to the competition.  

Woongarrah will have their work cut out for them come Sunday as Harmsworth admits he is anticipating an extremely tough challenge. “They are reigning premiers, so we expect a very strong, well-drilled outfit.”

“We will need to get into the challenge early, look to grind and keep working on the things we have been throughout pre-season, creating chances and taking them when they come our way.”                                

Match Official – John Shaw

All Round 3 Fixtures –