Three Kings Complete Perfect League Season
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Story by Jeremy Ruane
Three Kings United recorded something achieved just five times previously on Sunday, overcoming previous Lotto Northern Premier Women's League champions Claudelands Rovers 7-2 at Galloway Park to complete the perfect league season.
Mt. Wellington, in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986, and Eden, in 1987, are the only previous teams to record duck-eggs in both the draws and losses columns on the league table, but until now, the latter club are the only ones to have won all eighteen games they played in a single campaign.
Martine Puketapu gave United the perfect start when scoring just 102 seconds into the contest, and she went on to score a hat-trick, which will almost certainly see her clinch the Golden Boot for the season.
Hannah Blake, who spent the bulk of the previous day in hospital, scored late in the contest, which also saw rare goals for Alosi Bloomfield, Sophie Stewart-Hobbs and Claudia Crasborn, whose cross from wide on the left went untouched until it hit the inside of the far post.
Leah Gubb and Michaela Foster, from the penalty spot, scored goals inside the first half-hour which saw United ahead by the odd goal in five at half-time, but the new title-holders kicked on well in the second spell to earn themselves a spot in the Premier Women's League history books.
After the match, the Lotto Northern Premier Women's League media awards for the season were presented, with Alosi Bloomfield's outstanding season acknowledged by the Most Improved Player award.
Hannah Blake was just as deserving a winner of the Young Player of the Year award, while The Jeremy Ruane Trophy, awarded for Meritorious Achievement by a women's team or individual from the northern region, was presented to Three Kings - their eighteen wins from as many matches, allied to topping the ton goalscoring-wise, has been the stand-out achievement in 2016.
Western Springs gained sweet revenge for their National Women's Knockout Cup quarter-final exit by humbling their conquerors, Glenfield Rovers, 4-1 at Seddon Fields on Friday evening.
Rovers weren't at the races for large parts of this contest, too many of their more experienced players simultaneously having an off-night, something which "The Hoops" took full advantage of.
Three goals in four minutes - Rebecca O'Neill's penalty was sandwiched by two Lily Rose Dyer strikes - before the half-hour mark put the game well in Springs' hands, and they could have added further to their tally before Liz Anton did so with a thumping header eight minutes into the second spell.
Dayna Stevens scored what proved to be a consolation goal for Rovers just after the hour mark as the visitors concluded their league campaign with a whimper, as well as a fourth-placed finish.
Fifth place was the domain of Forrest Hill-Milford United this season, and "The Swans" warmed up for their National Women's Knockout Cup semi-final on Saturday by pummelling Papatoetoe 8-1 at Becroft Park.
Sam Tawharu helped herself to four of the goals as United finished with a flourish in the second spell, because they only led by the odd goal in three at half-time, 'Toe's Jax David and Tayla Christensen exchanging first half strikes after Tawharu had broken the deadlock.
Catherine Bott, Aneka Mittendorf and Issy Coombes also chimed in during the second spell on a day Norwest United confirmed a solid sixth-placed finish by hitting Hamilton Wanderers for six at Porritt Stadium.
6-1 was the outcome, with Lauren Henry's goal for the home team of consolation value only, given both Jane Barnett and Cara Lonergan had scored twice for the victors, and in between Nicole Cooper opening their account for the afternoon and Vegas McCarroll closing it.
The final games of the league campaign take place next weekend, with Eastern Suburbs and Western Springs meeting at Bill McKinlay Park from 7.30pm on Friday to determine which team will finish second, while Hamilton and Papatoetoe square off at Porritt Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In between times, both National Women's Knockout Cup semi-finals will take place on Saturday, with holders Glenfield hosting Upper Hutt City from 2pm at McFetridge Park.
Forrest Hill-Milford, meanwhile, travel south to Christchurch to take on newly crowned Mainland Premier Women's League champions Cashmere Technical at Garrick Memorial Park from 1pm. And to reaffirm, both semi-finals are on Saturday.
Claudelands Rovers 2 (L. Gubb (19), M. Foster (29 pen)), Three Kings United 7 (M. Puketapu (2, 50, 66), A. Bloomfield (17), S. Stewart-Hobbs (26), C. Crasborn (53), H. Blake (88)) HT 2-3
Forrest Hill-Milford United 8 (S. Tawharu (23, 46, 56, 84), T. Christensen (40), C. Bott (58), A. Mittendorf (74), I. Coombes (88)), Papatoetoe 1 (J. David (33)) HT 2-1
Hamilton Wanderers 1 (L. Henry (63)), Norwest United 6 (N. Cooper (30), J. Barnett (31, 71), C. Lonergan (33, 70), V. McCarroll (81)) HT 0-3
Western Springs 4 (L. Dyer (23, 26), R. O'Neill (25 pen), L. Anton (53)), Glenfield Rovers 1 (D. Stevens (62)) HT 3-0