Tahlia Gossner, Taylah Bryde and Hannah Batten joined New Lambton for the club’s maiden Herald Women’s Premier League appearance hoping to have strong seasons with the 20s side.
Instead, the three talented teenagers are potentially one match away from playing in a first-grade grand final.
New Lambton trail 1-0 as they head into the return match of their two-legged semi-final with Merewether at Myamblah Oval on Saturday.
Seventeen-year-old attacker Batten and 16-year-old goalkeeper Bryde started for the Eagles in the first leg at Alder Park last weekend while Gossner, also 16, watched from the sidelines with a hand injury that ruled her out of the match.
The young midfielder comes back into calculations this weekend and Bryde, who has been nursing a knee injury this week, will be given until game day to prove her fitness.
Eagles coach Keelan Hamilton said all three “have really grown as players as the season has gone on” and have earned their place in first grade.
The trio were in the South Wallsend side which lost the WPL under-16 grand final last year.
“Because we were so young we just thought we’d be in 20s playing together this year,” Batten said.
“We’ve learned a lot from the older players and it’s been a great year. Hopefully we can get to the grand final.”
Warners Bay hold a 2-1 advantage as they prepare to host South Wallsend at John Street Oval on Sunday.
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The Eagles and the Wolves will both be chasing wins.
If scores are level after two legs, the away goals rule will come into play where the team which has scored the most on the road progresses. If the score is still level then the game goes to extra time.
The winners will meet in the championship decider at Weston on August 26.
“The scenario is really clear for us,” Hamilton said.
“We know we need to go there and we need to score and that changes the whole tie. Then we go from there.”
The Eagles sustained a blow during the week with news former Matildas player Joey Burgess had ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament in the first semi-final.
Merewether will give defender Jamee Ellis until the last minute to prove herself. She has not played since dislocating her kneecap in round 16 and would add some stability to the defending champion’s backline.
United coach Cassandra Koppen said they planned to “keep attacking” in the second leg.
“If we can get a goal early it puts them into a really difficult position,” Koppen said.
“We’ve just got to focus on ourselves and improving our performance from last week.”
Neither Warners Bay nor South Wallsend were expected to change too much going into their clash.
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Wolves coach Brad Parkes said Laynee Field would come back into calculations after missing the last game through illness.
Panthers player-coach Cassidy Davis expected their opponents “to come out firing” and said being first to ball was an area they needed to improve.
Both games kick off at 2.30pm.
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