NPL Wrap: Wanderers win second consecutive U18 Grand Final

The Western Sydney Wanderers have triumphed in this year's NPL 2 U18 Grand Final after an incredible 8-1 victory over Central Coast Mariners at Sydney United Sports Centre on Sunday.

Dylan Ruiz-Diaz was deadly, netting a hat-trick, while Alexander Lopez, Bailey Rule, Yousef Sawalha, Anthony Vastag and Callum Watt all got onto the scoresheet to thump the Mariners.

The U18s got off to a great start with early chances for both Martin Fernandez and Bailey Rule. 

The 11th minute saw the Wanderers go into the lead thanks to top scorer Ruiz-Diaz who stroked the ball past the keeper after a pass from Rule.

Five minutes later, Central Coast levelled. Mackenzie Syron managed to save a long-range free kick but couldn't keep out Ottie Clarke's follow up effort. 

The Red & Black were not deterred and soon went back in front. Fernandez did brilliantly in the buildup, playing a precise through ball to Lopez who prodded past the onrushing keeper. 

 

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Lopez almost grabbed his second soon after but he was unlucky to see his header come back off the post. 

The Wanderers continued to dominate the match and pile on the pressure onto the Mariners.

The Red & Black extended their lead when Ruiz-Diaz played off the ball to Rule who smashed it into the net through a crowd of players. 

Ruiz-Diaz would then get his second of the game soon after the restart, blasting the ball in off the underside of the bar after some intelligent work from Vastag and Lopez.

 

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As the Mariners pushed forward to get back into the game, there was more space for the Wanderers on the counter-attack.

The Wanderers scored again with Ruiz-Diaz completing his hat-trick in style beating the keeper with a powerful strike from 25-yards out. 

Substitute Yousef Sawalha then made it 6-1 with his first touch of the contest, getting on the end of a through ball from Fernandez before finishing well. 

The Wanderers didn't let up, and scored again a couple of minutes later, as Vastag raced past the Mariners defence before slotting the ball home. 

 

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However, the scoring wasn't over, with two of the Wanderers substitutes combining to score the Red & Black's eighth and final goal of the game. 

Luke Okuda showed great athleticism to play the ball into the middle of the penalty area with Watt reacting the quickest to slam the ball in from close range. 

The win marked the club's second consecutive victory in the NPL 2 U18 Grand Final, following on from a 2-1 victory over Sydney FC in the 2016 decider.

 

Central Coast Mariners 1 (Ottie Clarke 16’)
Western Sydney Wanderers 8 (Dylan Ruiz-Diaz 11’ 47’ 78’ Alexander Lopez 21’ Bailey Rule 44’ Yousef Sawalha 83’ Anthony Vastag 85’ Callum Watt 89’)

Western Sydney Wanderers U18: Mackenzie Syron (Jack Groeneveld 84’), Yianni Nicolaou, Gabriel Contigiani, Thomas Aquilina, Daniel Wilmering, Lochlan Constable (Yousef Sawalha 81’), Martin Fernandez (Callum Watt 84’), Dylan Ruiz-Diaz, Bailey Rule (Luke Okuda 81’), Anthony Vastag, Alexander Lopez (Ahmed Sweedan 71’)