Auckland teams have started well in the new-look Women’s National League, filling four of the competition’s top five spots after the opening round.
Western Springs are top of the table — for a week, at least — after a 6-1 win over Southern United, while Eastern Suburbs beat Capital Football 4-1.
In a repeat meeting of the Kate Sheppard Cup finalists, Auckland United and Northern Rovers shared a 1-1 draw.
Here’s our round-up of games:
Main photo: Sofia Garcia is congratulated by teammates when she completed her hat-trick.
Springs hit Southern for six at Seddon Fields
Western Springs out-gunned Southern United 6-1 at Seddon Fields, led by a Sofia Garcia hat-trick.
The Aucklanders took the lead in the fourth minute when Garcia ran onto a well-placed through ball to control and tap past the Southern ‘keeper.
Garcia made it 2-0 midway through the first spell when she rose unmarked at the back post to power home a header.
In the 34th minute, Southern pulled back a goal when Margarida Dias capitalised on a defensive error to nip in and place into the corner of the net from close range.
The teams turned around with the Aucklanders 2-1 ahead.
Ten minutes into the second spell, Springs extended their lead to 3-1 when Lara Colpi made another searing run down the right and crossed for Rina Hirano to neatly turn into the net.
A couple of minutes later, Colpi punished Southern again, providing Sam Tawharu with the pass that set up her goal.
In the 72nd minute, Maggie Pedersen found herself unmarked and 25 metres out. Whether she intended to shoot or cross the ball, the outcome saw the ball loop over the head of the ‘keeper and into the net.
As the final whistle approached, Garcia completed her hat-trick with a well taken shot from the edge of the area.
Auckland United and Northern Rovers share the points
The first half-hour saw both teams create chances without either being able to capitalise.
In the 31st minute, after soaking up Rovers pressure, United’s Milly Clegg had a shot that was blocked and fell to her Junior Ferns teammate Ruby Nathan.
Her attempted chip then hit the far post and rebounded into the grateful arms of ‘keeper Ellen Blount.
Northern Rovers started to gain the upper hand as the half wound down, having a barrage of goal attempts.
They finally broke through when teenager Dani Canham controlled the ball with her back to the United goal, turned and hit a shot goalwards.
The ball took an awkward bounce and went over the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Jesse Barnard and into the net.
That sent Rovers into the half-time break with a 1-0 lead.
Both sides created chances as the second half became a wrestle for control.
Rovers showed their strength from set pieces, floating inswinging corners into the United goalmouth, causing mayhem.
They almost scrambled the ball into the net in the 66th minute from one such corner; a relieved United defence finally got the ball clear.
In the 70th minute, United counter-attacked and Clegg pulled the trigger from 20 metres, shooting into the far corner of the net to level the scores.
Rovers brought on three late subs in search of a deciding goal but neither side were able to break through.
Games played on Sunday September 18, 2022
Western Springs 6 (Sofia Garcia 4′, 26′, 90′, Rina Harino 55′, Sam Tawharu 57′, Maggie Pedersen 72′)
Southern United 1 (Margarida Dias 34′)
Auckland United 1 (Milly Clegg 70′)
Northern Rovers 1 (Danielle Canham 42′)
Games played on Saturday September 17, 2022
Capital Football 1 (Pepi Olliver-Bell 18′)
Eastern Suburbs 4 (Tayla O’Brien 4′, 35′, 66′, 74′)
Canterbury United Pride 3 (Whitney Hepburn 12′, Chloe Bellamy 37′, Kate Loye 62′)
Central Football 0