Challenge Matamata Swifts Ladies have come within the scoring of one goal of winning the 2020 Waikato Division 1 title, but a 2-2 draw at Waikato Unicol on Sunday has seen them finish as runners-up to their Hamilton-based opponents.
Heading into the match, the sides had drawn their previous two matches and sat level on points at the top of the table, miles clear of anyone else. Unicol’s better goal difference, however, meant Matamata needed to win this match to claim the crown.
Matamata started the stronger of the two teams, putting early pressure on which led to Mary Ontiveros’ shot being deflected home for an own goal. The teams, as they have been all season, were evenly matched and this was underlined when a ball dropped to a Unicol player outside the box who finished well in the top corner to leave the scores level at half time.
After the break Matamata went 2-1 down after Unicol slotted home a one on one.
With ten minutes left it was game on again. Matamata pushed forward once more and, from a corner, Kerrie Cox contested the ball with the keeper, laid it to Ontiveros who moved the ball on to Patrice Morrison to finish with a deft header. At 2-2 Matamata had no option but to keep pushing forward, but it was to no avail.
Several great saves by keeper, Lisa Dunn, kept Matamata in the game but it was an excellent all round team effort with everyone getting suitable recognition.
It’s not often a team finishes the season undefeated but misses out on the league title. There is still a lot to be taken from the satisfaction that comes with an unbeaten season, though, which is a huge result for a dedicated group of players and coaching staff.
In the only other match played over the weekend, Comag Matamata Swifts came out on the wrong side of a 3-1 score line at Taupo. The Swifts have struggled against Taupo over their years and this match proved to be the rule rather than the exception. Matamata didn’t hold or use the ball well enough in conditions that, in stark contrast to the Matamata Domain, were ideal for knocking the ball around.
Taupo was a goal up and a player down by half time, before Campbell Higgins drew the Swifts level just short of the hour mark.
The hosts re-found the lead soon after before Matamata was reduced to ten men in a move that all but sealed the result. Taupo’s third goal, deep in injury time, ended any hope the Swifts may have had of taking something from the match.