Kempsey Saints Football Club saw their 16 girls’ team continue the club’s dominance in female football with an emphatic grand final win over Camden Haven on Friday night to claim both the minor and major premiership.
Hot on the heels of their title winning Ladies team the girls were quietly confident of getting the same result. In the only competition, except Premier League, that covers the whole zone Saints got to play every team from SWR to Bulahdelah.
This involved more travel than other grades and less home games at Kempsey but the Saints girls handled all that and finished in top spot at the end of the regular season.
Although on equal points with both Tinonee and Camden Haven they finished first with a better goal average.
Predominately the same side had made the 14s girls Grand Final last year and were again eligible for that grade.
Unfortunately that age group didn’t have enough sides and the girls were faced with competing in the 13 boys or 16 Girls comp. Playing up meant the team could be joined by their only two older players Erin Miles-Gavin and Haley Kesby.
Saints had the first week of the semis off and then took on Tinonee in the major semi-final with a grand final spot for the winner. In a close game Saints got through 2-1 with goals to wingers Nelly Barnett and Charntaye Ritchie.
The Grand Final proved to be just as close for the first hour of the game. In a howling southerly wind Saints lost the toss and had to face a much older and bigger Redbacks side with the wind in their faces as well.
Missing key midfielder Jess Paix looked like making it more difficult but some outstanding goalkeeping from Elleigha Dowling and brick wall defence from Erin Miles-Gavin; Lily Burns and outside backs Rosie Jeffrey and Charlotte Ryder saw Saints hang on to be 0-0 at half time.
The second half was all Saints with the classy midfield of Haley Kesby, Kaylee Roberts and Abbey Livermore using their passing game to outplay a very physical Redbacks.
It was an in swinging corner kick from Nelly Barnett that saw Kesby score the first Saints goal with a clever header on the 60 minute mark. Only 8 minutes later Kesby stamped her authority on the match with a free kick from 25 meters out that found the top left corner to go 2-0 up.
The Saints forwards of Charntaye Ritchie, Tahlia Smith, Honey Kassell and Heidi Lindner were first to every ball in the second half to give Camden Haven no chance to mount any worthwhile attack.
It was a great team effort with youngster Emma Ross showing her enthusiasm by running for every minute she was on the field. Barnett showed her class with a great one on one with the keeper after a forward pass from Kesby split the flat Camden Haven Defence.
Saints finished winners with a classy 3-0 result. Barnett was named player of the grand final. Saints looks set for some good years ahead in Ladies football with most of this team eligible for seniors next year.