By Joan Grey
Northern Rovers duo Chelsea Elliott and Michaela Foster are about to make history as the first players to appear in two Kate Sheppard Cup finals in a single calendar year.
The Hamilton-based duo have played together for six years and were part of the Hamilton Wanderers side who reached the 2021 Kate Sheppard Cup final.
Due to COVID-19 disruption, that final was postponed from late 2021 and played in March 2022.
With Elliott and Foster wearing the Wanderers’ blue, they lost the final 1-0 to Wellington United.
On Sunday September 11, Foster and Elliott will play in their second final in six months.
This time, they will represent Northern Rovers against local rivals Auckland United.
The final kicks off at North Harbour Stadium at 1pm.
Main photo: Michaela Foster (left) and Chelsea Elliott … aiming for a Women’s Premier League and Kate Sheppard Cup double.
Northern Rovers are this year’s Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League champions. A formidable force, in the league they scored 53 goals and conceded just 14.
Neither Foster nor Elliott had experienced such an unbeaten run before.
Foster: “As a team, we wanted to win, but to go undefeated for 24 games was pretty incredible. It was cool to be amongst the group of girls to do it with.”
Elliott: “You just can’t beat the Northern Rovers team culture. I’ve been playing in the Northern League since I was 14 and I’m now 27 but I’ve never been part of a team like this.
“In the Northern Rovers team, everyone is so good in each of their positions and we’re all so connected, it’s just insane.”
Elliott, who has previously played as a striker at national league level, now plays as a centre-back.
Foster was Northern Rovers’ top goalscorer and found the back of the net 14 times this season.
A versatile player who represented New Zealand at U-20 and U-17 level, Foster has fulfilled a variety of roles in the Northern Rovers formation, mostly in the attacking midfield and wing.
“It’s a slightly different formation to what Wanderers were playing, so I’m in a slightly different role to what I was in, which I’m excited about, I get to play a bit further up the pitch,” Foster says.
Although the previous Kate Sheppard Cup final was played at the same North Harbour Stadium venue, the stadium on that day was empty due to COVID-forced restrictions.
Elliot and Foster look forward to a buzzing atmosphere and supporters in the stands for this Sunday’s 2022 final.
“I hope there will be a good crowd, especially with the Chatham Cup match following ours. There will also be a couple of cartloads following us up from Hamilton to support us so that will be quite fun,” Foster says.
This season’s Kate Sheppard final build-up is quite a contrast to last season’s COVID-affected event.
March’s final had a quick turn-around between the semi-final and final, whereas for the upcoming final Northern Rovers has been building up for the past eight months since the preseason.
“Whatever happens this weekend we’ve pushed each other, and we are where we want to be as a team.
“It’s an exciting challenge and an event that we can enjoy and that has paid off all our work from the Northern League season and Kate Sheppard Cup run,” Foster says.
Kate Sheppard Cup final
Northern Rovers v Auckland United
North Harbour Stadium, Albany, 1pm
How they got to the final
R2: Beat Hibiscus Coast 3-1 (away)
R3: Beat West Coast Rangers 3-0 (away)
QF: Beat Tauranga City 4-0 (away)
SF: Beat Palmerston North Marist 5-2 (home)
R1: Beat Fencibles United 6-0 (away)
R2: Beat Western Springs 2-1 after extra time (away)
R3: Beat Ellerslie 3-1 (away)
QF: Beat Eastern Suburbs 3-1 (away)
SF: Beat Dunedin City Royals 2-2 (won penalty shoot-out 5-3 AET)
1994 Nomads United (Christchurch)
1995 Waikato Unicol (Hamilton)
1996 Lynn-Avon United (Auckland)
1997 Three Kings United (Auckland)
1998 Three Kings United (Auckland)
1999 Three Kings United (Auckland)
2000 Lynn-Avon United (Auckland)
2001 Ellerslie (Auckland)
2002 Lynn-Avon United (Auckland)
2003 Lynn-Avon United (Auckland)
2004 Lynn-Avon United (Auckland)
2005 Lynn-Avon United (Auckland)
2006 Lynn-Avon United (Auckland)
2007 Western Springs (Auckland)
2008 Lynn-Avon United (Auckland)
2009 Lynn-Avon United (Auckland)
2010 Claudelands Rovers (Hamilton)
2011 Glenfield Rovers (Auckland)
2012 Three Kings United (Auckland)
2013 Coastal Spirit (Christchurch)
2014 Glenfield Rovers (Auckland)
2015 Glenfield Rovers (Auckland)
2016 Forrest Hill Milford United (Auckland)
2017 Glenfield Rovers (Auckland)
2018 Dunedin Technical (Dunedin)
2019 Eastern Suburbs (Auckland)
2020 No competition
2021 Wellington United (Wellington)
Friends of Football writer Joan Grey loves playing and writing about football. She captains the Strathallan College Girls First XI and represents Franklin United in the NRF Women’s Championship.
The Kate Sheppard Cup is supported by the NZ Football Foundation.