The women’s National League football trophy remains in the north as Auckland United were crowned the 2023 champions.
They beat Southern United 2-0 at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday afternoon to win the team’s second major trophy of the year after they took out the Northern Premiership in August.
Auckland United’s victory made them the second National League champions, as the new club-regional format was introduced last year.
Sunday’s final would always crown a new title-holder as Southern earned the other spot by pipping 2022 champions Eastern Suburbs and runners-up Western Springs in the last round of the season.
Early on in the final, things looked as though they could have swung the other way.
The Dunedin-based team created first real chance of the match in the eighth minute as Amy Hislop headed a long-range ball onto the crossbar. Seemingly more fired up – and thanks to a little help from the wind – Southern dominated much of the first half, controlling possession and territory.
That was until Auckland United’s first opportunity in the 24th minute, which resulted in the opening goal and shifted momentum completely.
Rene Wasi timed her press perfectly to pinch the ball of Southern’s backline before finding 18-year-old Alexis Cook near the penalty spot. As composed and elegant as any player who featured in the A-League Women’s match at the same venue a day earlier, Cook received the ball and smashed it into the back of the net.
The lead allowed the Aucklanders to get more into the flow of the game.
There was a chance early in the second half for Southern to even the score, when halftime substitute Tahlia Roome went one-on-one with Auckland United’s keeper, however her shot found Aimee Hall’s hands safely.
Maisy Dewell then notched Auckland’s second goal - and her first of the season - as she capitalised on Southern United’s sloppy clearance, chipping goalkeeper Lauren Patterson who was off her line.
With still half an hour on the clock, Southern United had plenty of chances to get back into the game. However, the mix of Auckland’s experienced backline and Southern’s lack of composure on the ball in crucial moments saw the scoreline stay put.
Auckland United 2 (Alexis Cook, Maisy Dewell)
Southern United 0
Bonnie Jansen is a multimedia journalist in the NZME sports team. She’s a keen footballer and has worked with the Alternative Commentary Collective and was part of the Te Rito cadetship scheme before becoming a full-time journalist.