(Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek)
New Zealand have taken a step closer to retaining their OFC U-19 Women’s Championship title with an impressive victory over Solomon Islands in Suva.
The defending champions proved too strong for Solomon Islands in their Quarter-Final encounter at HFC Bank Stadium, dealing the damage early on with a number of goals in the first-half to ensure their passage through to the Semi-Finals next week.
Having already gone close in the opening stages, the Kiwis found the breakthrough in the 9th minute, when Ella McCann was played in via an excellent through ball by Danielle Canham and slotted past Solomon Islands’ goalkeeper Naomi Siriongo.
Two further goals came within a minute as first Ruby Nathan and then Zoe Benson exploited space in the defensive line to give New Zealand their second and third goals.
Danielle Canham got her name of the scoresheet following a short corner routine that found the midfielder on the edge of the box and Siriongo could only palm Canham’s effort into the top corner.
Kiara Bercelli added two for herself within the space of four minutes, first a far post header from a corner that looped over the ‘keeper and then prodding home from Ruby Nathan’s downward header from within the six yard area. Bercelli then turned provider to square for McCann to tap in from close range.
Solomon Islands sporadically threatened on the counter but struggled to test New Zealand stopper Charlotte Eagle. Gertrude Oritaime saw her outside-of-the-boot effort float wide of the far post before Salome Masi fired across the face of goal but the ball was well held by Eagle.
McCann completed her hat-trick when set-up by Nathan again before Bercelli matched her three-goal haul, again from a Ruby Nathan assist.
Three further goals were added before the half-time whistle; Canham intercepting Siriongo’s goal-kick before slotting into the far corner, Benson squaring for Ruby Nathan to get her second before an outstanding individual run by Emma Pijnenburg led to a one-two with Benson and the captain fired into the roof of the net.
The second-half saw the reigning champions continue to push, adding goals in the 51st and 55th minutes, first through Player of the Match Ruby Nathan following an excellent passing move and then Zoe Benson, tapping in from a Nathan cutback.
Benson added another just after the hour mark, expertly dummying the goalkeeper before rolling the ball into the net. Minutes later, substitute Lara Colpi got her name on the scoresheet, riding a tackle in the area before sneaking the ball in from an acute angle.
Bercelli added her fourth, taking advantage of a poor clearance to slam the ball high into the net, before the Solomon Islands’ task became ever harder when substiture goalkeeper Amantha Francis was sent off for taking out Colpi on the edge of the area.
The excellent Nathan added a couple more in the dying minutes, two almost identical finishes from close-range after neat cutbacks to put a seal on proceedings.
New Zealand now advance to a Semi-Final on Wednesday against either Cook Islands or Vanuatu.
New Zealand: 19 (Ella MCCANN 9′, 28′, 34′, Ruby NATHAN 13′ 43′ 51′ 88′ 90+2′, Zoe BENSON 13′ 55′ 62′, Danielle CANHAM 16′ 39′, Kiara BERCELLI 19′, 23′, 35′ 74′, Emma PIJNENBURG 45′, Lara COLPI 68′)
Solomon Islands: 0