A well-taken winning goal by teenage substitute Ela Jerez has earned Western Springs their second Kate Sheppard Cup after a nerve-jangling final with Wellington United.
Springs, who last won the trophy in 2007, beat Wellington United’s Diamonds 2-1, with Jerez coolly slotting home the winner in the 89th minute at North Harbour Stadium.
With the final seemingly destined for extra time, Springs completed an end-to-end move that started with goalkeeper Mickey Mitchell and led to Lara Colpi feeding the ball wide to Jerez.
Jerez (15), who played her junior football with Marist, Onerahi and Northland FC, darted past her defender and shot across the face of the goal and into the net.
It capped a big month for the youngster who has been named in the New Zealand team to play at this month’s OFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Tahiti.
In the first half, Springs had always looked the likely winner.
The Aucklanders allowed Wellington United to knock the ball around at the back, keeping possession but unable to get forward.
This frustrated the Diamonds, who frequently gave up possession and Springs spent most of the opening half hour in United’s half.
Liz Savage produced the first significant chance of the game, in the 31st minute, striking across the face of the goal for ‘keeper Molly Simons to palm onto the post and away for a corner.
Springs went ahead in the 38th minute when Colpi delivered a peach of a through ball for Sam Tawharu to run onto and steer past Simons.
At half-time, the balance of play was so much in favour of Springs, it was hard to see how Wellington United could find a way back.
But they did.
After the interval, the Diamonds emerged confident and pushed forward at every opportunity.
Springs’ Mitchell had to save a header from Pepi Olliver-Bell who found space at a corner in the 51st minute.
Three minutes later, Natalie Olson shot on target, forcing a save from Mitchell.
Then, in the 55th minute, Wellington United forced an equaliser.
Danielle Ohlsson crossed from the right flank. It was met by Olson in the box and the ball looped high above ‘keeper Mitchell as she and Olson fell back into the goal.
Jemma Robertson was left with a simple tap-in.
Despite protestations from Springs players and supporters, referee Anna-Marie Keighley checked with her assistant and confirmed the goal would stand.
The rest of the half provided both sides with chances but the game was waiting for its moment of decision.
As the clock ran down, the crucial play fell to a teenager who kept her composure.
Main photo: Western Springs raise the Kate Sheppard Cup in front of their supporters. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Springs captain Lily Jervis was named Player of the Match.
Game played on Sunday September 10, 2023
Western Springs 2 (Sam Tawharu 38′, Ela Jerez 89′)
Wellington United 1 (Jemma Robertson 55′)
Mickey Mitchell, Tiana Hill, Lily Jervis (captain), Jaedeci Uluvili, Lily Taitimu, Sofia Garcia, Sam Tawharu (Ela Jerez 76′), Jess Innes, Megan Lee (Celia Mayo 57′), Lara Colpi, Liz Savage (Kitty Jacob 90+3′).
Subs: Angelique Tuisamoa, Helena O’Connor, Maia Lythe, Sienna Vercauteren.
Staff: Maia Vink (head coach), Caleb Ward (assistant coach), Rivalina Fuimaono (goalkeeper coach), Suzy Falconer (physio), Chloe Henderson (team manager).
Molly Simons, Hope Gilchrist (captain), Zoe Barrott, Natalie Olson (Phoebe Gray 79′), Sammi Preval, Danielle Ohlsson, Jemma Catherwood, Jemma Robertson (Liv Deane 65′), Pepi Olliver-Bell, Natalie Brook (Olive Lynch-Gerrard 79′), Lillian Davies.
Subs: Brooke Assur, Sophie Dijkstra, Lena De Ronde, Bella Cartman.
Staff: Guillermo Schiltenwolf (head coach), Alejandro Suarez Padilla (assistant coach), Michael Deane (goalkeeper coach), Alex van der Laan (physio), Justine Empsom (team manager), Justin Liu (analyst).
Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley
Assistants: Aliys Clipsham, Courtney Bremner
Fourth official: Sarah Jones
Assessor: Helen Mallon
All the past winners — Kate Sheppard Cup
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)
2021 Wellington United (Wellington)
2022 Auckland United (Auckland)
2023 Western Springs (Auckland)