Soccer: Harrison helps secure league victory

By Cameron Leslie

Paihia's Estelle Harrison was right in the thick of Northern Football's victory in the ASB Women's League final, setting up both goals as they went on to be crowned champions.

Harrison's standout performance against Auckland helped produce two second half goals to Tayla O'Brien and Georgia Brown, which proved enough to ensure the title remained on the northern side of the Harbour Bridge for another year.

Sunday's win was built on defence, with co-captain Bridgette Armstrong and Tessa Berger working hard in tandem with fullbacks Caitlin Campbell and Harrison to halt the scoring run of former Football Fern Rebecca Tegg, who scored in every round except the final.

Northern coach Mauro Donoso was pleased his girls could maintain their defensive patterns and frustrate Auckland.

"For the last four matches we've been able to keep a clean sheet so our defence has been very strong," said Donoso.

Auckland started the final stronger in search of their first national title since 2009 with talismanic striker Tegg hitting the frame of the goal in the first half, and headed a late chance straight at goalkeeper Pam Yates.

A couple of half chances to Tegg and Hannah Kraakman were the closest Auckland came to breaking Northern's resolve. The defending champions too could only muster a handful of openings in the first half, as the cross town rivals headed into half time locked at nil-all.

"The first 45 minutes was intense and there was a lot of nervous energy but the second half was excellent and the team showed that they are a great, great team," said Donoso.

Shortly after the restart a teasing cross from Harrison from the left bounced invitingly in the area for O'Brien to head unopposed past Erin Nayler. O'Brien had come close to opening the scoring moments earlier with a curling effort which went wide of the Auckland goal.

The lead was extended on the hour when a long range Harrison free kick was palmed onto the cross bar by Nayler, unfortunately for the Junior Football Ferns custodian the rebound fell at the feet of Brown to bundle home.

Donoso said the win was testament to the depth of talent within Northern Football, with only six girls remaining from last season's title winning side.

- Northern Advocate

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