Amber Phillips had an outstanding season for Wairarapa United. PHOTO/FILE

Promising for next year

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Tumu ITM Wairarapa United women’s coach Paul Ifill is pleased with the efforts of his young team who finished second to Wellington United Diamonds in the W-League.

Ifill had set his side the target of winning the league this season and they came up short only by goal difference.

“We wanted to win, but we closed the gap on them,” he said.

“Last year, the Diamonds won by eight points, so to finish level on points with them was pretty pleasing.”

Both teams had an identical record of 11 wins, a draw, and two losses. They were six points clear of Palmerston North Marist in third.

The Diamonds’ goal difference of plus 37 was significantly superior to United’s plus 25.

Ifill highlighted a couple of missed opportunities earlier in the season as key moments.

“The Western Suburbs game at home was probably the game that cost us most.

“We were 2-0 down and got a goal back. We were all over them in the final 20 minutes but couldn’t score another goal.

“It was difficult to take against a team that finished near the bottom, but Wests did have all their players back from their American universities,” Ifill said.

“The other game was when the Futsal nationals got in the way and we lost 2-1 away to Wellington.

“We had Molly [Woodhead], Dani [Turton] and Amber [Phillips] away for that game and that hurt us.”

The Wairarapa United squad were one of the youngest in the W-League and Ifill was happy with their progress.

“We had a lot of young players come through. Darby [Lambert] had a very good first season, and Ella [Innes] and Dylen [Kingi] developed really well and probably had their best seasons.”

He also had plenty of praise for some of the team’s more experienced players.

“Courtney Norman came back early from a broken foot and was outstanding in goal, and Amber was unbelievable in defence and on attack.”

“Meisha [Boone] continues to defy her age. She was such a calming influence on the team and was always good for a goal,” Ifill said.

Boone was the team’s top goal scorer with seven goals, Phillips was second with six goals and Turton and Lambert [including a hat-trick] found the back of the net five times.

Looking towards the 2020 season, Ifill hoped to keep most of the squad together.

“We’ll probably lose Flo MacIntyre to university in Melbourne. We may add one more centreback and one more midfielder.

“We’re also likely to have Dani and Ana [McPhie], and Gorgi van Lienen, who missed this season, back from university in America for eight games, so we’ll hopefully be looking good.”

Ifill also thanked the team’s loyal supporters, as well as the club’s administrators for their efforts in a difficult season in which some of their games had to be moved from their home ground of Memorial Park.

Ifill was also an influential part of the Jaycar Wairarapa United men’s team who avoided relegation from the Central League without winning a game.

He said there were some promising signs for next season.

“I spoke to [coach] Cory [Chettleburgh] and we’re pleased with the second half of the season.

“All those young kids we brought in now have nearly 20 games experience in the Central League.

“If we can bring in a couple of older heads, we have the potential to be a lot more competitive.”