FOOTBALL Mid North Coast's under 17 Women's Premier League (WPL) side kick off the finals campaign this Sunday at Myamblah Oval, Newcastle.
In a home and away style finals system, the third placed FMNC side will take on second place Adamstown Rosebuds over two consecutive Sundays for a place in the grand final. They will play the overall winner of premiers Wallsend and fourth placed Warners Bay.
In a tough season for FMNC WPL sides, the 14s and the 17 are the only sides to qualify for finals. The 14s side will go in heavy favourites to take out their competition, as the current premiers and last year's grand final winners, while the 17s will need to play some quality football to get past Adamstown, according to coach Jane Lynch.
"Adamstown has been our nemesis all year, but it is definitely not outside our range to beat them. I am expecting a really close contest," Lynch said.
Lynch admits the side isn't in great form at the moment, but there have been a number of challenges the team has had to face.
"We actually qualified in third by 10 points, so coming into the last few weeks, I think our intensity dropped off, knowing that we were already in and no results would have changed our position," she explained.
They also had to manage a slew of injuries and player unavailability.
"There are some talented athletes in the squad,'' Lynch said.
"We had three players in the squad who were part of the NNSW side at the national championships and other squad members have represented in a range of other sports in high levels. That caused considerable disruption."
The squad will be at full strength Sunday but are still juggling a few niggling injuries.
"We've played serious minutes this year," Lynch said.
"We actually only had the bear 11 players for a third of the season, but two late additions enabled us to field a squad of 13 for the finals."
FMNC's under 17 side boasts players from Taree and Forster, together with Kempsey and Port Macquarie. Playing for Football Mid North Coast in the Women's Premier League is the pathway for talented female players.
"It is a large commitment for all involved, our squad has been training since January and has played 21 rounds of football," Lynch said.
"There is extensive travel and training commitments, but the calibre of opposition and the standard of the competition is a great challenge and is moulding these players into quality footballers."
Kickoff for the 17s on Sunday at Myamblah Oval is 10.30am.