By LARRY ANDREW
SEPIK put on an emotionally-charged performance to win 3-1 and hand Northern Conference winners Poro their first loss of the Women’s National Soccer League season at 11-Mile outside Lae on Saturday.
Paying their respects to the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Sepik finished the season in scintillating form with two wins since the founding father’s passing.
It was the first time coach Troy Gunemba’s Poro dropped points after winning their last 13 matches prior to the round 14 encounter at the Papua New Guinea Football Association Academy.
Coach Gordan Torovu’s Sepik hit the ground running, matching Poro in attack and defence.
But the hosts took the lead when Rayneta Samuel opened the scoring 14 minutes in.
However, visitors Sepik equalised with a goal through their leading goal scorer Sharlyn Jagi 10 minutes later.
Both teams lifted their intensity but were unable to score more goals until halftime.
The second stanza began in a similar vein with Sepik applying pressure which allowed them to slowly grow into the match and dominate Poro, whose defence began to crumble.
Sepik took the lead for the first time when Leuvennah Karo’s effort found the back of the net in the 60 minute.
Karo’s effort lifted Sepik’s spirits as they continued to dominate possession until they sealed the win in the 89th minute when Poro goalkeeper Betty Sam fumbled possession, allowing Jagi to score their third goal.
Torovu told The National that his players followed their game plan which enabled them to record their 11th win of the season.
“I’m happy for the win but there are some loose ends that we need to fix as we enter the semifinals,” he said.
“We acknowledge Poro for giving us a good challenge as it has helped test our girls’ mental toughness to stay focused as we look forward to our next game.”
Gunemba said they knew that Sepik would step up to the challenge.
“I will not blame anyone,” he said.
“We tried our best but only the better team can win.
“It’s good to have lose so we can work on our weaknesses ahead of the semifinals.
“The result of this game will help me help prepare the team for the semifinals.”
By LARRY ANDREW