After a frustrating opening four rounds watching from the sidelines, Lori Depczynski finally got to take the field this Newcastle Herald Women's Premier League season.
And although the result did not go the way Azzurri wanted, the return of the experienced Depczynski was an encouraging sign for Charlestown coach Niko Papaspiropoulos as they look to take maximum points from a 10-day period in which they play three games.
Depczynski was Merewether's leading goalscorer last year. Azzurri have replaced United in WPL this year but Depczynski had been out with a knee injury until Saturday. She twice gave her side the lead against Newcastle Olympic before the defending champions ran away with the game, scoring five goals in the second half to win 7-2.
Azzurri are second-last with three points but are only four points adrift of the top four. They host last-placed New Lambton (0) on Friday night then play sixth-placed Mid Coast (4) in a May 22-23 weekend double-header.
"I don't think that score was truly reflective of the game," Papaspiropoulos said. "They punished the mistakes. We are good enough to be in the mix. We've just got to make sure we last the whole game, mentally and physically. We get some results over the next couple of games and we're back in it."
Olympic finished all over Azzurri and coach Harmonie Attwill credited the dominant second half to fitness and the experience of players like Jemma House, who produced a match treble.
"Fitness has always been a focus for me as the coach and, when teams aren't as fit as us, it's definitely something we can exploit," Attwill said. "So I guess that could also come into play when we are down, or it's close. We play full 90 minutes. We're not physically unable.
"Jemma did well. She's a game-changer sometimes and that's what you need from your top players. If they're not in the game, if they're not getting enough ball, you need them to be able to come and find it, which she just did so well for us last year."
Many Herald Women's Premier League spectators were surprised to see former W-League players Tara Pender and Jenna Kingsley take the field in round six. Kingsley has signed with struggling New Lambton and Pender scored in her first outing with Warners Bay.
There was a lot to be excited by in Warners Bay's 7-1 win over Adamstown on Sunday, but Panthers coach Craig Atkins is not getting ahead of himself.
There were five different scorers for Warners Bay, who were locked at 1-1 at half-time. Other new signing, Lilly-Jane Babic, came off the bench in the second half and proved a handful in attack.
"We had that full component then lost Jen [Hoy] and Annie [D'Amico], so bringing in LJ [Babic] and Pender means we've got a really competitive squad now, and we've got good depth," Atkins said. "It's promising signs and we're building but there's still a lot of improvement in us. We're not playing 90 minutes yet. We need to be doing that."
Warners Bay are third with 12 points and face a big test on Friday night when they travel to Magic Park to take on unbeaten league leaders Broadmeadow (18).
The Emerging Jets went down 4-1 to Northern Tigers in round six of NSW National Premier League Women's last weekend. This Sunday they play host to Sydney Olympic at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility.
IN NEWS TODAY:
- Body modifier pleads not guilty to female genital mutilation
- New Victorian coronavirus case after man returns from South Australian quarantine
- Hunter couple robbed on their wedding night
- Two in hospital after six-vehicle crash at Adamstown
- Man to be fined for alleged spitting, verbal abuse outside court after Hayne sentencing
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: