Palm Beach SC Women booked their place in the NPL Queensland Women’s Grand Final with three quickfire goals ousting Sunshine Coast Women 3-1 at Mallawa Complex on Sunday.
Deeanna Thompson hit a stunning eight-minute hattrick just after the hour to help Sharks secure a rematch with Premiers The Gap Women.
The burst ended Fire’s fighting Finals Series campaign, which reaped two knockout victories, and means the inaugural Grand Final will be contested between the regular season’s top two.
Danger began to arise for Fire midway through the first half with Thompson and fellow Sharks attacker Terri-Amber Carlson causing concern.
Jessica Davy came closest for the visitors in the opening 45 minutes when she drove to the top of the box but finished wide, while at the other end Lauren Brown was denied by the woodwork in stoppage time.
It remained scoreless for another 15 minutes after the restart until the hosts, led by Thompson, took control.
The speedy striker first broke the deadlock by curling a classy finish in off the post from range.
It was 2-0 four minutes later when Thompson clinically made the most of a defensive lapse to help the home side put one foot in the decider.
Stunningly, the match was all but over in the 68th minute when Carlson played Thompson through on goal to beat goalkeeper Katie Offer in a one-on-one.
Fire responded resiliently and, after Bianca Warrener kept out Danielle White’s powerful effort, the visitors did claw their way back into the match with a goal from Samara Christmas.
Fire ultimately failed to make further inroads into the scoreline as Sharks qualified for the Grand Final at the second attempt, having been defeated by Gators in the Qualifying Semi-Final two weeks ago.
Speaking after the match, Sharks coach Gary French credited his side’s pre-match diligence as essential.
“The girls did their homework, we were prepared for the game and how they played, and I thought we executed it well today. Very, very proud of the girls,” French said.
Palm Beach SC Women 3 (Deeanna THOMPSON 61’, 65’, 68’)
Sunshine Coast FC Women 1 (Samara CHRISTMAS 71’)