Soccer: History driving Knockout Cup finalists

Massey University football captain Rosie Missen says the opportunity to make history will drive her team, in the final of the Women's Knockout Cup against Auckland's Three Kings United in Wellington on Sunday.

The Palmerston North club is the first from Manawatu to reach the final in the 19 seasons of the national women's knockout club competition and, with only three clubs from outside Auckland lifting the silverware in that time, Missen says her team are already on a high with Newtown Park almost offering a home final.

"Making history is something that is a huge motivation for us," Missen said. "We've got the sense of so much support from the rest of the region and want to win it for much more people than just ourselves.

"It's so good having the final so close to our home town. We'll have a lot of support and I know the other Central League teams are going to be there and it's nice to know that even though we are great rivals during the rest of the year, they're behind us when a team from their league is in such a big game.

"It's a good position to be in. It takes a bit of pressure of us and removing the external expectation allows us just to go out there and play."

"Having players like Emily McColl, Leah Gallie and Emma Boyack involved helps as they know those international players from Three Kings, know how they play. There are some excellent players in that Three Kings side but we've got some as well and those experienced players will help the rest of our team step up."

Three Kings playmaker Annalie Longo isn't letting Massey claim the underdog tab so easily.

The Football Fern's return from the Olympics is a boost to a squad missing four players away with the Junior Football Ferns at the Under-20 Women's World Cup and who lost a number of international players at the end of last season including some to professional clubs overseas.

"It's more than respect for Massey," Longo said. "They've got some class players. The likes of Emily McColl are still good enough to play internationally and what works in their advantage is the fact that they can train together regularly whereas our season has been really disjointed by players travelling with national teams. If anything, that lack of continuity makes Three Kings the underdogs."

Longo missed the final two years ago with injury when Three Kings lost a 5-4 extra time thriller to Claudelands Rovers and says competing in a final means a lot to her, her teammates and the club.

"It's the pinnacle of domestic women's football in New Zealand so it'll be huge for Three Kings. We haven't won in a few years but have come close. Having lost so many Football Ferns players from the squad we weren't expected to do so well in this competition and I'm really proud of the girls who have got us to the final."

This year the MVP trophy for the women's competition has been renamed after Maia Jackman in recognition of the recently retired international who won the competition five times with four different clubs.

The match kicks off at 11am at Newtown Park followed by the final of 85th final of the Chatham Cup between Central United and Lower Hutt City.

- APNZ

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