Our First Grade have had a grueling preseason in preparation for our second season. Training started back in November and the team feels much prepared for a bigger and better 2019. Just ten first team players remain from the club’s inaugural season however there have been several exciting signings coupled with the promotion of a few former under 20 players. The experienced Glenn Fontana joins coach Paul Robaard at the helm.
For our First Grade squad, 2018 was all about establishment into a new environment for players and coaches alike. The squad was full of players experiencing First Grade football for the first time, along with Coach Robaard who was also at the helm of his inaugural First Grade squad. The side ended the season in 9th place, learning plenty during the course of the season.
In the end, South Coast finished their season strong with a comprehensive 4-1 win over the Hurstville City Minotaurs – a performance which hopefully can be replicated throughout 2019. Highlights of the 2018 season included a win in our inaugural FFA Cup match – where South Coast defeated West Pennant Hills Cherrybrook 4-2 with Julio Mushaba bagging a hat-trick. Along with this, the side put in a resilient performance to defeat Prospect United 2-1 away from home, with an average squad age of 19 years and 11 players out of 16 squad members 20 years-old or younger. To put that result into perspective, the starting eleven would’ve been eligible for the U/20’s game that same afternoon – as there were only 3 players over 20 years old in the starting lineup. Finally, two dominant 5-0 wins over the Balmain Tigers highlighted what was a year of learning for this squad.
Our first grade side have taken on a wide range of outfits in just a short space of time. The team have played five Illawarra Premier teams and have been able to match it with every one of them. Throw in games against NPL3 Dunbar Rovers and two other State League sides, the team has been given every opportunity to gel ahead of the 2019 season.
It’s been pleasing to see several young players making debuts in these games as well although injuries have curtailed part of the preseason with the team unable to field the same team in consecutive games not has it been able to field what is likely the best 11 yet. The pleasing thing though is the depth in the squad this year seems bigger and competition for places have increased the intensity levels at training.
Over the course of pre-season, our first grade squad has made several new signings including young Shoalhaven work-horse Alex Boardman – who joins fellow Shoalhaven products Matthew White, Martin Thompson and Darren Jones. Three players from our 2018 U/20’s squad have earned a promotion into our First Grade squad for 2019 with Jayden Smileski, Daniel Lucas and Johnny Vicoroski taking the next step this season.
A lot will be expected of 2018 regulars Matthew Mazevski and Louis Connell who will be looking to utilise their creativity whilst the signing of Japanese trio Hiroaki Ushijima, Yuki Mandai and Seiya Oba are sure to create headaches for opposition teams. Another new signing is Justin Smith who has NPL experience. He becomes another great option as the battle for midfield places heats up. Matthew White will once again wear the armband in 2019 with the experienced Grant Wilson joining White in the leadership group.
Our First Grade squad will be looking to use the lessons learnt in their inaugural season to progress to the next level in their footballing journey. The side has shown glimpses of their potential in pre-season, and will be looking to transform this potential into a successful
season both on and off the park.
Matthew White (C), Andrew Bova, Darren Jones, Daniel Lucas, Grant Wilson (VC), Kayne Kotevski, Andrew Christie, Louis Connell, Matthew Mazevski, Johnny Vicoroski, Alex Boardman, Jayden Smileski, Hiroaki Ushijima, Justin Smith, Yuki Mandai, Seiya Oba, Caleb Grace, Mohamed Krishban, Wade Wilton.
Join us at Ian McLennan Park this Saturday the 23rd of March, as we take on the Western Condors in the opening round of the 2019 Football NSW State League. Our U/18’s kick off at 3pm, U/20’s kick off at 5pm and First Grade kick off at 7pm.