What a game, what a season, what a team!Nicole Mills
And so we come to the end of the 21/22 league…what a match!
Last week we secured our place at the top of the league, as our closest rivals lost their third match of the season to the Pelicans. With the pressure off and sun shining, we stepped out for a relaxing and enjoyable game.
And what a game it was.
Within the first few minutes, Charlotte expertly dodged the defenders and goalie to score an effortless first goal for South. This was closely followed by Hattie and Sarah’s first goals of the day, and brought us up to a comfortable 3-0 in the first 15 minutes.
Midfield were working hard to cope with the sweltering heat. Helen’s left wing tackles and well timed bunts put pressure on the opposition’s defenders, helping to set up extra opportunities for our attackers. Louisa’s enthusiasm and energy didn’t falter. Intercepting the opposition’s sixteens and providing lots of passing options, she was owning the centre and maximising her step count!
With a defence-heavy team, Daisy demonstrated her versatility with her second game as a midfielder. With lovely positioning which she’s improved on week after week, she applied her usual defensive skills to boldly tackle the Pelicans and return the ball to South.
Polly was on the opposite wing, winning tackles and stopping the pelicans driving back to the half way line. We didn’t quite match the 26 short corners from first meeting with the Pelicans, but we had a few ‘Polly slips’ which were narrowly saved and rattled their defence. Luckily Polly’s cheeks didn’t participate in the press this time around!
Half time, and we were a group of very hot , but very smiley L5s. 7-0 up and no constructive criticisms other than ‘why is the watermelon still in the car?!’. Lou was working hard to look intimidating throughout the first half, but the defence were keeping the ball away. We considered bringing Lou outfield for a run around, but didn’t want to rest on our laurels!
Fresh from their half time pep talk, the Pelicans returned with considerably more force, and put our defence under pressure. Two of the Pelicans flew(!) up the pitch and towards our goal. The first was channelled by Vicki, straight into the ‘Rosie wall’, saving Lou from a 1v1. Super-consistent Vicky was quick off the mark, intercepting the rogue ball and weaving through the attacking Pelicans to bring the ball out of the D and up the wing. A beautiful demonstration of the strength of the L5’s defence, and the reason only 5 goals have been conceded all year. Rosie’s excellent leadership and back line witticisms have featured heavily across the season, and have been fundamental to the L5’s motivation and success.
A few more Peli-opportunities were met with similar strength, denying any opportunities to add to their own goal records. Vicki was quick to change the direction of play, feeding the ball back out and up the wings. I hope Rebecca was logging her steps; she was supporting the attackers, crossing balls into the D, then back in our D to head off their attackers. All whilst making it look like a gentle stroll!
Charlotte went on to score her 20th and 21st goals (in 18 matches), putting her in 4th place for club goal king /queen). This gives Charlotte the best goal to game ratio in the whole club! Congratulations, Charlotte!!
Following her POM title from last week for repeated strikes on goal which were matched by Long Sutton’s semi-Olympic goalie, Holly had another cracking match, assisting goals and netting her seventh goal for south.
Even with the umpires disallowing her usual (rulre abiding) reverse shots, Hattie was undeterred. Hattie only joined us in the second half of the season, yet managed her second ‘Hattie hat trick’ for the fives with a lovely short corner strike and several well timed and well placed shots.
Sarah had a powerful and direct strike from a short corner, straight past the goalie; unfortunately it didn’t quite leave the D and was disallowed. This didn’t stop Sarah, as shortly after she scored her third goal of the match, earning her a timely hat trick for her fiftieth appearance for South and to rank her 8th for the goal king title.
And last but not least -
After running out of breakfast and needing an early morning toast delivery, a slow-mo tumble and accidentally saving Holly’s goal, Fi upped her game. With many drives up the wing and crosses across the D, Fi netted a well-deserved fourth goal of the season and the L5’s 84th and final goal. This goal has followed a long, long line of ‘assists’. If only I’d known that the promise of an ice cream for a goal would be the motivating factor!
This brought us in to double figures, finishing on a whopping 10-0 and firmly establishing ourselves as the 5NW champions with a +79 goal difference and 15 wins.
What a game, what a season, and what a team!