Cassidy Davis scored four goals as Warners Bay overpowered an under-strength South Wallsend 8-1 in round one of Herald Women’s Premier League on Sunday.
The 2016 champions lost just two games on the way to capturing last year’s minor premiership, only to be beaten by Merewether in the 2017 decider.
They showed they would again be setting the pace with the dominant performance, led by their player-coach who returned to Warners Bay fresh from a strong W-League season with the Jets.
The hosts led 3-0 with the game only 15 minutes old, were up 3-1 at half-time then scored four unanswered goals in another devastating 15-minute period late in the match.
Sophie Stapleford, who made an emotional return to football last year after two years out due to a brain tumour, opened the scoring before Davis and Gaby Deacon also found the back of the net.
MJ Mason got one back for the visitors midway through the first half but it was the only time South Wallsend could finish their chances.
Davis completed her four-goal haul with a second-half hat-trick and captain Nadja Squires scored a double with one goal from the penalty spot and the other a spectacular strike from nearly 40 metres out.
The Wolves lined up without starting players Maddy Searl and Erin Wilson, who miss the first three rounds through suspension, plus unavailable new recruits Alesha Clifford and Olivia Kennedy, who both have W-League experience.
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“They obviously had four out, which made it hard for them,” Davis said.
“I thought we started well but then they kept breaking through the middle and it was getting a bit edgy, so we changed things a bit at half-time, which locked that central zone and stopped their channels.”
Wolves coach Brad Parkes said conceding three early goals “put us behind the eight ball” but felt they had their chances to level the first half.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the result but I saw a lot of positives out there to build on,” Parkes said.
At Fletcher’s Kurraka Oval, newcomers New Lambton shared a point with Wallsend in a 1-1 stalemate in which both goals came off set pieces.
Former W-League defender Stacey Day scored the Eagles’ first ever WPL goal when she headed home a corner on the 30-minute mark.
Wallsend levelled the score minutes before half-time through Libby Copus-Brown, who has also played for the Jets, from a free kick.
At Adamstown Oval, Rosebud beat Thornton 2-1. Annika D’Amico scored for the hosts in the 20th minute before Elodie Dagg gave Adamstown a 2-0 half-time lead from the penalty spot 13 minutes later. Kristie Power-Walford scored for the Redbacks in the 53rd minute.