CF Wellington United and Southern United have emerged as challengers to Auckland’s past stranglehold on the Women’s National League.
Last season, Auckland clubs filled the competition’s top three spots, five points clear of their nearest rivals.
After three rounds this year, the Auckland sides are not having it all their way.
Defending champions Eastern Suburbs lead the competition, the only team with a 100% record thanks to wins against Auckland United, Southern United and the Wellington Phoenix.
But chasing them are the unbeaten newcomers CF Wellington United, a hybrid team formed by Capital Football with the club that were runners-up in the Kate Sheppard Cup.
Wellington United moved into second place with a 5-2 win at Ellerslie that needed three goals in stoppage time to take the three points.
Southern United made a statement with a 3-2 home win against Kate Sheppard Cup holders and last year’s National League runners-up, Western Springs.
After trailing early, Southern United took the initiative with three goals in four minutes to turn the game around.
The title hopes of Wellington United and Southern United will be tested next weekend when they meet at Wellington’s Wakefield Park.
Whoever wins will remain in the dash for grand final places; a draw will suit neither team.
Other features of Round 3 include:
Milestone for the Ponies
Whatever else happens in Ellerslie’s first-ever appearance in the National League, Britney Cunningham-Lee will always have the honour of scoring the club’s first goal at that level.
She scored in the 15th minute against CF Wellington United.
Main photo: Britney Cunningham-Lee … will go into the club’s record books as the scorer of their first National League goal. Photo: Jackie Tran Van / Phototek.
Ellerslie travel to Canterbury United Pride in Round 4.
Another slow start for the Pride
Six-time champions Canterbury United Pride spoiled last year’s campaign with a poor start and they’ve done it again.
Winless after three rounds, they’ve lost to Auckland United, CF Waterside Karori, and drawn with Central Football.
Last season’s competition was 14 rounds, with eight teams, giving the Pride chance to claw their way up the table.
This year, it’s only nine games and 10 teams; the Canterbury side will do well to get into the top half on current form.
New names in Golden Boot race
Western Springs striker Sofia Garcia leads the goalscoring chart after three rounds.
Interestingly, she’s the only player with three goals or more who featured in the top 10 scorers last season.
Wellington United’s Pepi Olliver-Bell has four goals already, only one less than she managed for the entire competition in 2022.
Current Golden Boot standings
- Sofia Garcia (Western Springs) — 5
- Pepi Olliver-Bell (CF Wellington United) — 4
- Nicole Cooper (Eastern Suburbs), Margarida Dias (Southern United), Amy Hislop (Southern United), Ella McCann (Wellington Phoenix), Rene Wasi (Auckland United) — 3
Results — Round 3
Games played on Saturday October 7, 2023
Central Football 2 (Maddison Hughes 21′, Mikaela Bouwmeester (Boxall) 39′)
Canterbury United Pride 2 (Charlotte Mortlock 19′, Britney-Lee Nicholson 90′)
Wellington Phoenix 0
Eastern Suburbs 3 (Nicole Mettam 4′, Charlotte Lancaster 28′, 31′)
CF Waterside Karori 1 (Margot Ramsay 69′)
Auckland United 3 (own goal 4′, Chelsea Elliott 20′, Yume Harashima 23′)
Games played on Sunday October 8, 2023
Southern United 3 (Margarida Dias 32′, 36′, Kendrah Smith 35′)
Western Springs 2 (Lily Taitimu 12′, Lara Colpi 37′)
Ellerslie 2 (Britney Cunningham-Lee 15′, own goal 48′)
CF Wellington United 5 (Pepi Olliver-Bell 63′, 90+9′, Ellie Kabayama 67′, Sophie Dijkstra 90’+2′, 90+7′ pen)
2022 final standings