New Lambton have been crowned Women’s Premier League champions, scoring an extra-time 4-3 victory over defending champions Merewether at Rockwell Automation Park on Sunday afternoon after a shootout that stretched into the evening.
Merewether were the first on the board in Weston, with Rhali Dobson giving the three-time champions an early lead in the 10th minute. Tara Andrews struck back nearly immediately, slotting home a trademark turn and shoot into the bottom corner in the 14th minute.
The Llamas again took the lead early in the second half through Courtney Anderson, but the Eagles refused to lay down. 10 minutes after Merewether had claimed the lead, New Lambton leveled the game again after forcing an own goal off a corner chance.
Merewether appeared to have found their way back into control after Stacey Day’s handball in the box gave Dobson a penalty chance that she fired home, but livewire winger Lauren Allan tapped in a back-post chance less than five minutes later.
Then the epic in Weston headed into extra-time after the score was locked 3-3 at 90 minutes. It was the first time since the Women’s Premier League opening season that the decider needed the extra 30 minutes to provide a winner.
The winner came, eventually, in the 107th minute of play. In a similar chance to her first goal, Andrews found space at the top of Merewether’s box and cut in from the right, firing the championship goal into the bottom right corner to seal the Eagles’ victory.
After a season of firsts for the club, New Lambton boss Keelan Hamilton said he and the girls were “so happy” to leap over the final hurdle and claim the WPL silverware.
“We’re really excited, for myself personally I’m really proud of the effort that the girls have put in this season, they’ve earned everything that they got,” said Hamilton.
“It was a really fitting moment for us to win, we showed grit and determination and proved why we’re premiers. It was a bit of a nerve-wracking, but we showed a lot of character to not drop our heads in extra-time, and especially after that penalty.”
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Hamilton also said he was pleased that Andrews had found the extra-time winner against Merewether on Sunday afternoon, after all she had done to fire the Eagles’ campaign into the history books of the league.
“She’s a fantastic player, and I thought the leadup to that goal was class as well. It was nearly 110 minutes into the game and our fullback is still running up the wing and creating that chance is absolutely fantastic to see,” Hamilton said.
“It was very fitting for Tara to be the one to score the winner, she’s been a big-game player for us time and time again and for her to do that one last time in a season that has been so great for the team was just a really special moment I thought.”
With the premiership and championship double locked away in just the second year in the women’s top-grade, Hamilton knows the whole club is in that special moment.
“It’s unbelievable, if you had said to any of us at the start of last season that we’d end up doing the double and get the most points ever in a WPL season, and score the most goals ever, we would have laughed at you,” Hamilton said.
“This is such a special moment for us, and our players and supporters have had such a special day and night. The offseason is going to be great for the girls now, they’ve earned their rest. For now, we’re savouring this moment, it’s been amazing for us all.”
Article first published as New Lambton cap amazing season.