NSW PREMIER LEAGUE
The Stingrays will bank on the successful midfield combination of Blake Miller and Jess Cooper to anchor their bid for a fourth-successive NSW Premier League title tomorrow.
The Illawarra side will travel to Blacktown Football Park for their grand final against Macarthur with confidence instilled in the duo, having beaten the minor premiers in a semi-final game two weeks ago.
Coach Steve Marsh has backed the Miller-Cooper pairing to overcome the Rams' strong midfield, which he believes is a vital to winning.
"The biggest threat from their point of view is the midfield," Marsh said.
"They've got a very strong midfield and if you allow time and space to apply that then they'll literally carve you up.
"I don't expect that to be any different this weekend. It will probably be a very midfield-oriented game and I'd say that whoever wins that battle may well go on to win the grand final.
"You've just got to be as competitive as you can be and effectively starve them of ball.
"Our midfield just needs to fire and do the job it's meant to do. If we do that, I'm very confident."
Macarthur will be without the defensive pillars of Leena Khamis and Danielle Brogan for the match due to injury and representative commitments.
Even so, Miller - who joined the Stingrays mid-way through the season from West Virginia University - is under no illusions about the enormity of her role.
"I just have to defend well, and make sure that me and Jess Cooper keep our shape and support each other, and keep the ball when we have it," she said.
"It was a hard game last time we played them, really intense. They're a really strong team."
"I know what we can do against them. We should have finished a few opportunities better when we played them last, and I think it's good knowing that. It's going to be a tough game."
The Stingrays came away with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win on September 2, after being 0-0 in regular time.
Illawarra can set a new record in the NSW Premier League if they manage a fourth-consecutive flag tomorrow.