The 2017 Under 16's MSC Grand Final will be played out between Strikers and Wolves this Saturday at the clubs home ground located on Park Road in Maryborough. This game promises to be one of the closest grand finals we have seen at the club in many years. One thing is for sure, after three years of purple dominance, a new name will be etched onto the trophy, forever implanted in the history of champions. The last time Strikers took to the field on Grand Final day the side was left wondering what could have been, that was back in 2015, the side is now back to its best and out for redemption. Their opposition will be keen to cause an upset, with Wolves proving that they can match it any team in the competition. This is going to go right down to the wire, just as it did in the race for the premiership with the sides only separated on the ladder by 1 point at the conclusion of the 2017 season.
Games won 10 10
Games Drawn 1 2
Games Lost 4 3
Goals Scored 61 64
Goals Conceded 35 38
Wolves: Matt Bundy, Pat Pritchard, Nick Peart, Jesse Lang, Poppy Johnson, Jack Huggett, Mitch Gardam, Kaileb Norton, Hamish Hare, Pat Knowles, Will Macdonell, Josh Brand, Pearl
Strikers: Laura Murphy, Reed Smith, Jesse Sullivan, Jullian Callea , Brandon Steicke , Tyler McSwain, Alex Nitschke , Isaac Duncan, Samuel Hall , Kyle Clifford , Laura Fitzgibbion
Wolves: In his first season of Under 16’s Patrick Pritchard has taken no time settling in to become one of the competitions best players. Winning the Golden Boot this season with a massive total of 30 goals, Patrick is now a player that defenders fear when they look at the opposition team sheet. His trademark bursts of speed down the wings followed by a quick cut in to put defenders out of place and then accurately finishing off the goal is something that Pritchard has become known for this season. His incredible ability to finish inside the box will create headaches for the Strikers defence. Patrick also possesses an incredible work rate and he will no doubt be running all day, involving himself in all of Wolves attacking and defensive play. Strikers would be wise to pay close attention to Pritchard as shutting down his run will go a long way to winning the game for the team in blue.
Matt Bundy has gained invaluable experience and confidence through his involvement with the Maryborough Soccer Club’s senior BDSA side in 2017. Bundy is a very versatile player and it will be interesting to see where coach Johno Melton positions him throughout the day. Matt can perform lock-down roles on key opposition players and it would not surprise if he is sent to nullify the influence of either Kyle Clifford or Jullian Callea. His on-field leadership will also prove vital for Wolves if they are to keep their structure and composure throughout the match.
Mitchell Gardam could potentially be the deciding factor in this game. The promising young keeper on his day is unstoppable and if his day is tomorrow, no matter how many chances Strikers have, he will make it virtually impossible to score. Gardam also likes to play out from the back and this is something Strikers could potentially exploit. If the game comes down to penalties, mark Wolves in for a win – This kid between the sticks has the ability to win the cup for Wolves single handed.
After winning the Golden boot in 2016, Kyle Clifford has gone from strength to strength in 2017. Regarded as one of the hardest working players in the competition, Clifford will be a crucial component for Strikers if they are to win the game. Expect him to line up in the midfield as he can often be seen supporting Strikers in attack but also running back hard to help the teams defense. Kyle is arguably one of the best players in the league when it comes to finishing. His long-range shots are often right on the mark and can cause nightmares for opposition goalkeepers. Having won the Grand Final with Glory in 2016, Kyle will also bring some much needed big-match experience which could prove to be vital in the later stages of this match. If left unmarked by Wolves, Clifford will run riot and could turn the momentum of this game at any time. Expect high pressure from him early on in the game.
Jullian Callea has been Clifford’s partner in crime this season for strikers. Often playing on the wing, his incredible pace has proved to be too much for many of the leagues defenders. Callea also has experience playing for the club’s senior side and this will be on show tomorrow as he is one the best players in Maryborough technically. Callea’s ball control and first touch are his strengths. Like, Kyle Clifford, give him any space in the box and he will find the back of the net.
The defensive and goalkeeping combination of Jesse Sullivan and Reed Smith is also key to the success of Strikers this season. Both are very capable players in each position. The question is, who is going to start and finish the game in goals? And can Reed back up his outstanding performance as keeper in the Semi-final against United last week?
Johno Melton: “We are a great chance of winning tomorrow. We’ve proven all season that scoring is not a problem for us. Having the best keeper in the league will also fill our players with confidence that we can go all the way in this Grand Final. Strikers have proven they are the team to beat and their forwards will test our young defense. It’s going to be a massive occasion and one Wolves won’t take lightly”
Jeff Smith: “Our defense will be key to success tomorrow. If we play well as a team then we are every chance of taking home the title. All games between the sides have been very competitive all season and it’s going to be a close match. It’s a great occasion for any player or coach to participate in. This is the most important game of the year and we’re looking forward to a great game from both sides and a great day”
Its shaping up to be a cracking contest! Make sure you get to the ground and show your full support!
"Expert" Committee tips:
Jackson Barby: Strikers 4-3
Tim Macdonell: Wolves on Penalties
Paul Micallef: Wolves on Penalties
Jeff Smith: Strikers 4-0
Jacinta Clifford: Strikers 5-2
Amy Chaplin: Wolves 3-0
Lisa Patterson: Wolves 2-0
Sami Melton: Wolves 5-2
Peta Clarkson: Strikers 3-2