Quality Ipswich girls achieving excellence in state league
FOOTBALL: Western Pride coach Russell Yarrow knew he had one of Ipswich's best young teams the minute he saw them play in the pre-season.
The quality was clearly evident.
Months later preparing for a grand final, Yarrow is delighted what his 16-strong squad has delivered.
Pride's premiership-winning under-13 National Premier Leagues team advanced directly to the state league grand final after beating Souths United 3-2 last night.
The powerhouse Pride combination will play either Moreton Bay or Easts in the season-ending showdown on September 23 at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
Coaching an elite girls' side for the first time, Yarrow said it was fitting his Western Pride team adopted the mantra "in pursuit of excellence''.
"It's their dedication, they are courageous,'' Yarrow said.
"I didn't expect it (from players so young).''
Having previously coached at Lions and Western Spirit, Yarrow said he couldn't have asked for a better group of young players at Pride.
During the regular season, the Pride youngsters only lost one of their 26 matches.
They scored 107 goals, conceding just 16 in finishing the season as the top team in that NPL division.
Pride had 12-0 and 10-1 wins over teams like Mudgeeraba and Capalaba, along with hard-fought successes over top four rivals Moreton Bay, Easts and Souths United.
Yarrow said he quickly recognised the girls' promise during two pre-season games and a camp at the Gold Coast.
"I was starting to get excited because the commitment and attitude of these girls was so progressive that I just thought we are going to have a cracking season,'' the new coach said.
"And we have. Just their attitude at training, their attitude to learning, to improving.
"We talked about a growth mindset and they all just dialled in.''
Yarrow wanted a mantra his team could adopt. He was thrilled the girls agreed.
"Before every game on the whiteboard, I would just write 'in pursuit of excellence' and they've all taken it on board,'' he said.
He said the talent in his squad was highlighted by nine girls securing representative honours, including at state and high performance levels.
During the season, the Pride girls dominated in the state league competition playing "possession-based, attacking football''.
Looking towards Sunday week's grand final, Yarrow was most satisfied with his team's late season performances over a physical Moreton Bay side (2-1) and Easts (1-0).
Yarrow said those wins boosted the girls' confidence and maintained their winning mentality heading into the finals.
Ipswich-bred Yarrow said he had trouble singling out a best player each week, such was the quality of the team.
"From a coaching perspective, there's no egos,'' he said.
"I said to the girls 'show me your skill, entertain us' and they just do it. They are intelligent footballers.''
The team is led by co-captains Georgia Dean and Chilli Moffatt, as part of an extended leadership group also including Zara Kruger and Julianna Ganzcer.
Dean and Kruger scored in Tuesday night's win along with Appoo, who was the team's top goal-getter (44).
"They get rewards for their hard work at training because they are so committed. Geez, they play terrific football,'' Yarrow said.
State of play
NPL U13 girls semi-final: Western Pride 3 (Zara Kruger, Tia Appoo, Georgia Dean) def Souths United 2 at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
Grand final: September 23 (2.30pm) at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex - Western Pride v winner of semi-final between Moreton Bay and Easts.