Rosie White, OFC Women’s Player of the Year winner in 2008, stole the show on the third and final day picking up five goals as well as the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards to help her side secure Oceania’s sole berth for the FIFA finals this July.
Cook Islands meanwhile beat American Samoa courtesy of a four-goal haul from Regina Mustonen to edge Tonga on goal difference and claim second place.
New Zealand captain Anna Green, who is one of 11 players to have also been involved in the U-20 side that went agonisingly close to qualifying for the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile in 2008, says she is delighted to be heading back to FIFA’s pinnacle event.
“It’s an awesome feeling to qualify. My goal is now to lead this team to at least a place in the quarter-finals at the world cup in Germany,” said Green.
With many of the players also involved in the Football Ferns squad, coach Tony Readings says it will be a busy time ahead for his players.
“The senior internationals will go into the Aussie home series and the Cyprus Cup. We’ll resume training in about two weeks time with the rest of the girls and then when the senior girls get back from Cyprus we’ll start to really focus as a group.”
Readings said he was pleased with the way the team stepped up for the final match, particularly in the absence of playmaker Annalie Longo who suffered an ankle injury on match day two.
“Rosie White is the obvious standout with five goals, I also thought Chelsey Wood played well at the back coming in for her first game. But I’ve been pretty happy with most of the them, if not all of them, over the course of the three games.”
It took just three minutes for New Zealand to start the scoring when Wood, brother of All White Striker Chris Wood, nodded down Green’s corner for White to smash home from close range.
A nicely weighted through-ball from Nadia Pearl set up White for her second in the 10th minute before Pearl tapped one in herself three minutes later.
White, who scored hat-tricks at the FIFA U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups in 2008, had three inside half and hour before striker partner Wilkinson got on the score sheet in the 36th minute with a lunging volley at the back post from another Green cross.
Wood chipped in with a goal from a corner in the 41st minute before White grabbed her fourth two minutes later to give New Zealand an eight goal cushion at half-time.
Within five minutes after the break, White had her fifth before Elise Mamanu-Gray made it double figures in the 79th minute. Senior international Sarah McLaughlin rounded out the scoring in the 90th minute when the ball fell to her from a corner clearance.
In the earlier match, Cook Islands striker Regina Mustonen looked hungry for a goal from the outset and had her first in the 25th minute when American Samoa failed to clear a corner.
She scored two more before the break: the first down the left channel shooting low across the goalkeeper; the second rounding the keeper and calmly slotting home into an empty net.
American Samoa fought well in the second half and were helped by another outstanding performance from Sancia Spoaga who later picked up the Best Goalkeeper Award for her efforts.
They almost had their first goal of the competition in the 79th minute when Moaga Siaulaiga shot from 25 yards but Cook Islands goalkeeper Marjorie Toru just managed to keep the ball out on her second attempt.
Mustonen claimed her fourth just on full time, again showing her strength by outmuscling her defender inside the box and placing the ball past the keeper from ten yards out.
New Zealand, who also won the OFC Fair Play award, now head to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup which will take place in Germany from July 13 to August 1.