Second semi-final shock wake-up call for Papalia’s girls

October 07, 2017

Shepparton United will be attempting a three-peat tomorrow in the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League women’s grand final.

Rocky Papalia’s side won back-to-back premierships in the defunct Goulburn North East Football Association.

In the newly formed BASL, Papalia’s side, after claiming the minor premiership, can win a second piece of silverware in three weeks.

‘‘It is awesome, the girls are buzzing at the moment and everyone is looking forward to the challenge at Epsom,’’ Papalia said.

‘‘The girls have been through it all before, but it is a new competition, so history amounts to very little in the end.’’

Tomorrow’s clash against Epsom, which finished second on the table, looms to be a scintillating affair.

Only three weeks ago Epsom handed United its second loss of the season in the second semi-final.

‘‘We get a second chance, so we are happy to get fighting,’’ Papalia said.

‘‘It acted as a bit of a wake-up call too, the girls realised that we can’t just go through the motions and think it is going to happen like it has all season.’’

Epsom won 2-1 on that occasion, meaning United has conceded just eight goals for the season.

‘‘It is an incredible effort by the girls, the record speaks for itself really,’’ Papalia said.

‘‘We are strong at the back and we are able to build from that and then put goals in at the other end too.’’

United has banged home 98 goals this campaign and Papalia’s side could crack the ton.

The elusive Sophie Papalia leads the way for the minor premiers having netted 29 goals this season, Sarah Loverso has 21, while sisters Chelsea and Caitlin Georgiou have 14 and 13 goals, respectively.

Former Canberra United gun Megan McFarland is expected to play a key role, with Papalia praising her impact this season.

‘‘In my opinion, she has been super, she is the best player in the league, she can pick a pass and probably would handle herself pretty well in the men’s competition,’’ Papalia said.

‘‘Like all battles, the game will be won and lost in the midfield and Megan will play a key role in dictating that.’’

Epsom striker Tara Thomas has scored 32 goals in 18 matches this campaign and sits second overall, with Epsom having scored 106 goals — the most of any team.

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