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Marist Win Opens Up Title Race
by Jeremy Ruane
Marist Palmerston North gave the Capital Football W-League competition a much-needed shot in the arm on May 20 by handing league leaders Upper Hutt City their first defeat of the season.

The visitors' 2-1 win at Maidstone Park provided team stalwart Kate Bennett with the perfect send-off as she heads abroad. But more importantly, it was a tactical triumph for Marist coach and Liverpool fan Simon Lees, who dipped into Jurgen Klopp's box of tricks and came up with a "gegenpressing" plan which thwarted City's preferred playing style of developing play out of defence.

It earned its rewards seven minutes from time when Tilly James opened the scoring for the travelling team, forcing City coach Wendi Henderson to come up with a ploy which would serve her side well in the second spell.

Inevitably, that plan involved the league's leading markswomen, and the jet-heeled Sarah Gregorius eventually found the way forward fifteen minutes from time, a fine break down the left culminating in a cross which Emma Main turned home to level the scores.

And that's how things would have stayed, had Upper Hutt not conceded a clumsy and needless penalty in the final minute, Mikaela Boxall doing the honours from the spot to clinch the points and close to within two of Upper Hutt, who would have been hard to peg back had they won this match.

While Marist were winning, so, too, were Wellington United, emphatically. They slaughtered Stop Out 17-0 at Hutt Park, ramming home twelve goals in the second spell to gain the edge on Marist in terms of goal difference.

Maggie Jenkins led the onslaught with five goals, while Michaela Robertson and Briar Palmer helped themselves to hat-tricks on a day Europe-bound Jayme-Lee Hunter bagged a brace.

Megan Wozniak also struck twice in a four-minute burst late on for the title-holders, who had Maya Hahn and Nicola Blacklaws gracing the scoresheet during a one-sided contest which does little to aid in the growth and consolidation of the league, one of the competition's objectives, or so we are led to believe.

At Masterton Memorial Park, Seatoun eclipsed Wairarapa United 4-1 with the key players in their squad all finding the target for the first time this season.

Annie Olssen, Grace Surridge and Tessa McPherson - who celebrated her 24th birthday during the week, netted in the first half, while former Junior Fern Julia Baldwin struck in the second spell for Wairarapa's first half goalkeeper, Emma Kuzcona, showed off her outfield abilities when netting a consolation effort five minutes from time.

Next Saturday's action features the clash of Wellington and Seatoun at high noon at Newtown Park, while Stop Out host Upper Hutt at Hutt Park two hours later. And at 2.30pm at Memorial Park, Marist should hold too many guns for the visiting Wairarapa combination.

Details:
Stop Out 0, Wellington United 17 (M. Robertson (12, 21, 78), B. Palmer (16, 69, 90), M. Jenkins (34, 48, 63, 67, 83), M. Hahn (38), J. Hunter (57, 75), N. Blacklaws (69), M. Wozniak (79, 82))  HT 0-5
Upper Hutt City 1 (E. Main (75)), Marist Palmerston North 2 (T. James (38), M. Boxall (89 pen))  HT 0-1
Wairarapa United 1 (E. Kuzcona (80)), Seatoun 4 (A. Olssen (11), G. Surridge (26), T. McPherson (40), J. Baldwin (75))  HT 0-3
Coastal Spirit took over at the top of the Mainland Premier Women's League table on goal difference from reigning champions Cashmere Technical on May 20, after scoring thrice in each half to defeat Waimakariri United 6-0 at Linfield Park.

Lily Bray opened the scoring in the seventh minute before Arna Roberts scored the first goal of her hat-trick sixty seconds later, both goals being set up by Britney-Lee Nicholson, who also found the net in the first half, with Liv Smith chiming in late in the second spell.

Across town at Avonhead Park, second half goals from Tiana Williams - one from the penalty spot - earned Tasman United a 2-0 win at FC Twenty11. But the team from the "Top o' the South" couldn't make it a perfect weekend in Mainland's heartland.

Canterbury Universities picked up their first point of the season when holding Tasman to a 2-2 draw at the Christchurch Football Centre on Sunday. Goals in each half from Kelsey Barrett and Anna McPhie ensured Tasman went home with another point to their name, but they were denied all three by the second half strikes of Rachel Brodie and Ashleigh Leonard.

Next Saturday's schedule sees just two matches taking place, with Cashmere taking on the students at Ilam Fields from 12.30pm, while Waimakariri and FC lock horns at Kendall Park at the same time.

Details:
Canterbury Universities 2 (R. Brodie, A. Leonard), Tasman United 2 (K. Barrett, A. McPhie)  HT 0-1
Coastal Spirit 6 (A. Roberts (3), L. Bray, B. Nicholson, O. Smith), Waimakariri United 0  HT 3-0
FC Twenty11 0, Tasman United 2 (T. Williams (2 incl. pen))  HT 0-0


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