FA Cup finals usually have huge underdogs against firm favorites and that is definitely the case this weekend when Scholars International take on the all-conquering Sunset in the women’s showpiece.
Sunset clinched the league title again a month ahead of season’s end and won the inaugural President’s Cup. They are unbeaten and hold numerous records, but the young and inexperienced Scholars remain undaunted. It is an FA Cup final after all and in one-off matches like this anything can happen, history shows.
The match is at the TE McField Annex on Saturday, with kick off at 6 p.m.
Sunset head coach Alan Purvis and his assistant Trevor Murphy are confident they can achieve the treble but no one is getting blase. Sunset won the league and FA Cup last season so this is not new territory. Nevertheless, complacency is not an issue.
“I think this will be a tight but entertaining game,” Purvis said. “Scholars have improved considerably since the start of the season and that is evident by some of their league wins over Elite and Future.
“We’ve also had some very close games with them in the league and President’s Cup.”
Sunset have not played much recently but Purvis feels the long break, although disrupting their momentum, has allowed some of his injured players a chance to rest and recover a little.
He insists there is no chance of over confidence being their downfall.
“The team has been very humble with their success this season and we really have tried to focus on one game at a time,” he said.
“We have played phenomenal football and dominated in most of the games. There was only one game at the start of the season where maybe we didn’t deserve the win, but that evens out and we’ve certainly been on the wrong side of those results in previous seasons.”
He added that all teams, no matter what sport, should be confident going into games and Sunset are no different.
“When you do get success, it adds to that confidence and gives you a resilience and, even when you’re not playing so well, the belief is there that you will still win,” he said. “I don’t think we have beaten teams easily this season at all.
“We have dominated most games in terms of possession and territory, but turning this into goals and wins is not that easy, as Bayern Munich and Liverpool found out in their recent games against Real Madrid and Chelsea, respectively.”
Purvis feels the opposition “never seems to ease up against us and most of the time they raise their games, which is great.”
He added that they set themselves a high standard and are definitely not a boring, kick-and-chase team. “We have some fantastic build-up play, which is a pleasure to watch at times.”
Purvis is pleased with the team’s collective effort. It is a big squad which was handy to cope with many injuries to key players.
Sunset keeper Jovani Hessing has only conceded three goals all season in all competitions and her reward was being called up to the women’s national team last week.
Sophia Dilbert and Cassandra Bodden are reliable veteran defenders who were called up to the national team too.
Midfielders Karlie Cross, Jayme Farrell, Jessica Ebanks and Caron Lumbra are a big reason why Sunset have dominated so much this season, said Purvis. Ebanks is also in the national squad.
Wingers Nicky Keogh and Lesli Tathum have contributed significantly too. Tathum has matured and Keogh has improved immensely in her first season at Sunset.
Strikers Elena Testori, Kathleen Williams and Natalie Simpson were all new signings and 15 goals between them is a great return after slotting in smoothly.
“It is a pleasure to have such a wonderful group to coach and they thoroughly deserve their success,” Purvis said.
“We will have our customary end of season club awards night and I’ve heard the ladies are planning a collection to send me on an all-expenses paid trip next month to the Brazil World Cup finals.”