|The Cougars opened strongly with good possession and movement of the ball. A ball from Seaira long down the left had Daniela at the Carmel goal in the 2nd minute. Carmel was quick to pull numbers back, and sharp goal keeping had the shot denied. The Cougars maintained pressure in the Carmel half until the 5th minute when Isabelle won the ball in the midfield, denying the Carmel attack, found Kate deep on the right wing, where Kate cut left around the defender and drilled a left foot shot into the back of the net!
Carmel might have been a little shocked, but it wasn’t long before they were penetrating into the Cougar half with long balls trying to exploit the speed of their forwards. Carmel had a corner kick in the 12th minute, but it was effectively dealt with by the Cougar defense. Minutes later Kate rattled the Carmel goal post! Back Carmel came, wining another corner kick in the 16th minute. A weak clearance saw a shot hit the crossbar, rebound out, then the ball driven into the Cougar net!
The Cougars regrouped and were quickly back into Carmel’s half. Kate’s shot was defected for a corner kick. The corner was cleared to the half where Ashley won possession – seeing Daniela open, she delivered the perfect ball for Daniela to turn and make it 2-1!
The game heated up with more long penetrating balls from Carmel probing the Cougar defense. Jess was doing great things on the right to win possession and initiate the counter attacks, and the Cougars had goal scoring opportunities in the 29th, 33rd and 34th minutes. Isabelle and Ashley worked tirelessly in the center dealing with the pressure until Carmel found some space on the left in the 36th minute, sending in a long ball. A remarkable flick-on header saw the ball go over Sarah, hit the far post, and bounce into the goal!
Again the Cougars rallied, with 2 shots in the last minute, but had to settle for 2-2 at the half.
Carmel was charged up and confident, taking the game straight to the Cougar goal right from the second half whistle. The Cougars gave up corner kicks in the 41st and 42nd minutes. Carmel maintained the pressure before capitalizing on a weak Cougar clearance to find the net in the 51st minute.
The Cougars suddenly picked it up a notch. They found their shape both defensively and offensively, and starting working the ball in their usual passing game. After shots in the 49th and 54th minute Kate was delivered a ball deep down the right, she beat three defenders before having her pass denied by yet another defender! Blair picked up on the loose ball, but instead of trying to beat the wall of Carmel defenders between her and the goal, dropped it back to April on the 18 who was able to lob it into the back of the net!
The Cougar pressure was now relentless. Carmel was booting long balls clear at every opportunity, but the organized defensive shape of the Cougars only had them being worked back up the field to threaten the Carmel goal. In the 60th minute, Blair won possession in the midfield, passed to Kate down the right, who delivered a perfect diagonal to Daniela - shedding her 2 marks, she beat the keeper 1v1 to make it 4-3!
The Cougars maintained the pressure with shots in the 76th, 77th and 81st minutes. Only excellent goalkeeping kept them from the back of the net. As the clock rolled on into the 82nd minute we began to wonder if the ref’s watch had broken, and perhaps Carmel could rally and pull off a last minute tie! After what seemed an eternity, the whistle blew and the Cougars celebrated a hard fought, but well deserved victory.