The 16-year-old controlled the middle of the park to help her side bounce back from a disappointing 10-0 opening loss to New Zealand on Match Day 1.
Coach Luke Eroi was delighted with the overall performance.
“My key players did well today and we wanted to win,” said Eroi. “Veronica led the team well and substitute Ella Vakatao is an important player who usually goes at the back but I brought her on up front today and it worked.”
The Solomon Islands should have gone ahead in the first five minutes when Corina Hasi found herself unmarked at the back and the goalkeeper out of position but an awkward bounce meant the chance went begging.
It was Merina Joe who scored the first goal of the match, floating one in with her left foot from 20 yards to put the Solomon Islands ahead in the 11th minute. Two minutes later, Tolivaka sliced a ball through the Tongan defence for Hasi to run on to down the left before cutting the ball back and finishing neatly with a low shot.
On 33 minutes, Elizabeth Malau made the most of a defensive error and finished from close range to make it three for the Solomons.
There were few bright spots for Tonga who could only manage one corner in the 38th minute – their first of the tournament – and resorted to long range shots.
Luke Eroi’s side started the second half strongly with a goal to Mirriam Oneasi in the 47th minute after an initial shot by Malua’s had deflected off a Tonga defender. Another incisive run and through-ball from Tolivaka put Vakatao in the clear for the substitute to hit a first-time shot low past the goalkeeper and round out the scoring.
Tonga coach Marc D’Amici acknowledged the technical abilities of the Solomon Islands players.
“They were always going to be tough competition and at the end of the day their superior technique really shone through,” said D’Amici. “They’re obviously doing a lot of development with futsal and it clearly influences the way the play on the park.”
Ironically, one of those players being trained in futsal is Tolivaka.
“Futsal is the other football code that I have played and really enjoy it as well,” says Tolivaka.
“I was introduced to the Marist School of Excellence when I was six years old and from then on I have been hooked on all football.”
The Solomon Islands will play Papua New Guinea on the third and final day of the OFC U-17 Women’s Championship on Friday in what will essentially be a battle for second place. New Zealand have all but won the title after a comprehensive 9-0 victory over Papua New Guinea today. A win or a draw against Tonga on Friday will see them through to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago later this year.
Solomon Islands vs. Tonga Match Summary Download PDF
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