Central Futsal-Manawatu claimed the Women’s Futsal National League title in Wellington Sunday with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over AFF Futsal at the ASB Sports Centre.
After the top two sides from the round robin phase of the competition could not be separated after normal and extra time ended at 1-1, it was the Central Futsal-Manawatu side which emerged victorious 2-1 on spot kicks as Hannah Robert and Ella James tucked home their penalties for the victory.
Earlier, AFF Futsal’s Maxine Cooper had given her side the lead but an equaliser late in the contest from James brought Central Futsal-Manawatu level and neither side could add to their tally in the extra frame despite a lot of goal mouth action at both ends of the court.
After finishing the opening phase of the competition in second spot, Central Futsal-Manawatu reached the final courtesy of their 6-2 semi-final victory over WaiBOP Futsal.
AFF Futsal finished top qualifiers with a perfect five-from-five record and an impressive +25 goal difference record before seeing off Mainland Futsal 5-1 in their semi-final.
RESULTS/STANDINGS – click here
AUDIO – Central Futsal-Manawatu coach Matt Wallace
Central Futsal-Manawatu coach Matt Wallace was ecstatic with his team’s effort and said they did superbly to rebound from a 7-0 loss to the Aucklanders in the round robin phase the night before.
“It was a great weekend,” Wallace said, “we were probably a little bit of an unknown going into the tournament.
“We managed to get a quality side together and, as the result shows, we put a more than satisfying performance together and it was a good enough to get the title over what was a quality futsal side in Auckland.”
“In the final we made sure we were a lot quicker on defence we were a lot quicker in the transition. I said to the girls that scoreboard pressure would be very important. Auckland had been very clinical throughout the tournament and I knew that as the game went on, if we were only behind by one, we could get one or maybe another and as the result shows in the end, we never gave up.”
At his first Women’s National futsal event, Wallace highlighted once again the rapid growth of the fast-paced game.
“The standard for me was phenomenal,” Wallace said.
“The standings show it was very tight. Obviously Auckland have played a lot of futsal but from there down it was so close, all four teams could have made the semi-finals and the standard of futsal was very impressive and the women’s game is definitely growing and hopefully it can develop further, it’s exciting.”
New Zealand Football Futsal Development Manager Dave Payne echoed Wallace’s sentiments with Central Futsal-Manawatu now set to represent their country across the Tasman later this year.
“What a huge step forwards women’s futsal has taken this year, it’s been undoubtedly the best we’ve seen yet in New Zealand,” Payne said.
“Central Futsal-Manawatu will now get to take on Football Federation Victoria state representatives in Australia in July as we embark on the first step of the Trans-Tasman women’s challenge.”
Central Futsal-Manawatu’s Tori Jayne Lyne-Lewis was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player while her team mate Mikaela Boxall was joint winner of the Golden Gloves award along with Mainland Futsal’s Hannah Hegarty. Capital Futsal’s Maggie Jenkins – a New Zealand U-17 representative – was the Golden Boot of the tournament with eight goals.