Grand final rematch opens season

REIGNING CHAMPS: Internationals' Rebecca Bradley and team will meet Apollo in a grand final rematch for Round 1 of Limestone Coast women's soccer. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

James Murphy

APOLLO looks in a good place to go a step further in its 2024 Limestone Coast women’s soccer campaign.

Round 1 will provide an insight into that prospect when the girls from Webb Street host reigning premier International for a grand final rematch.

Apollo finished 2023 as minor premier and had established itself as a team to beat.

However, despite finishing the home-and-away season in third, Inter peaked at the right time of year and proved a deadly foe come finals.

That was evident in the decider, where after a tough battle, a single goal from Inter’s Evany Rex early in the second half sealed the deal.

Apollo has gone through a bit of a rebuild over the off-season, with a handful of players departing from the 2023 roster.

Those losses seem to have been covered though, which was evident in Apollo’s winning pre-season carnival performance.

A good contest can be expected between the rivals and while Apollo may enter as favourite, nothing is set in stone.

Across town, Gambier Centrals will host Millicent for the season opener.

Centrals finished the carnival in second place and will be eager to return to the top end of the competition after finishing down the order in 2023.

Millicent did not have a full team at its disposal at the carnival, so remains somewhat of an unknown.

However, it is sure to put up a fight and the Lions will need to hit the ground running to ensure they kickstart their season with a win.

On Sunday, Naracoorte visits Blue Lakes at Malseed Park.

The Rangers also have a point to prove this year and will want another taste of the premiership glory they had in 2022.

Blue Lake can be expected to be a top-four team again this season and should have Naracoorte covered.

For the visitors the focus will be on improvement.

Naracoorte finished 2023 with the wooden spoon after winning just the one match.

To its credit, it had three draws across the season, but the club will want to step things up a notch this year.

This will be the only senior women’s match played on Sunday, with a start time of 2pm, while the Apollo v Inter and Centrals v Millicent matches will be played on Saturday, also at 2pm.