Auckland's Three Kings United claimed the ASB Women's Knockout Cup for the fourth time in their history with a hard fought 2-0 win over Massey University at a windswept Newtown Park in Wellington on Sunday.
Massey pushed the favourites hard throughout the 19th final but especially in the opening exchanges when Emma Boyack tested Three Kings' keeper Joanna Kennedy twice and Rosie Missen fired wide from close range.
However, the Aucklander's took a 12th minute lead with the first of Marty Puketapu's two goals before Massey went close to an immediate reply when Rhonda Bridges hit the post and a few minute later a Boyack short was tipped over the bar by Kennedy.
Three Kings began to gain firmer footing in the match as central defender Emily Jensen kept tabs on the dangerous Boyack and player of the final Annalie Longo won an enthralling midfield battle against former Football Ferns teammate Emily McColl.
Puketapu hit the woodwork just before halftime and Longo did the same after a weaving run midway through the second half as Three Kings threatened a second goal that finally came when 15-year-old Martine Puketapu, the youngest ever scorer in a Women's Knockout Cup final, capped the victory with a 90th minute goal that took advantage of Rachel Ingram spilling a long range shot.
After experience a gut-wrenching 5-4 extra time loss in the final time two years ago Three Kings United coach Andy Clay said his was impressed by the way a young side missing a few regulars stepped up.
"It's been some years since Three Kings won the Knockout Cup and the last trophy we won was the Northern Premier League five years ago," Clay said.
"We've come close and we had that heartbreaking loss in the final two years ago and amazingly we only have two players today left from that line up.
"We've got five players at the U-20 Women's World Cup and senior players have moved on so while that advancement is a measure of success for the club but it's also great to win trophies."
"I worked out we had an average age of 17.4 and what really impressed me about them, in trying conditions, was that even at the end when I'm saying go long they still playing out from the back and keeping the ball.
"It was tough in the first half as we rode our luck a little at the start with a couple of chances that hit the bar. Massey tried to play as well but we got tighter at the back but still played while Longo came into her own as the game went on."