Striker Anasimeci Volitikoro scored a hat-trick of goals as Labasa overcame Ba 4-3 to clinch the inaugural Women’s Pillay Garments Champion vs Champion title at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva today.
Labasa led by Kula Girls midfielder Vanisha Kumar and with the services of former national captain Sonali Rao and Aliza Hussein started the match well.
On the other hand, the Women-In-Black welcomed the return of Kula Girls striker Cema Nasau, and former Labasa midfielders Louisa Simmons and Mereoni Tora while they missed top striker Koleta Likuculacula who was sent off in the last IDC.
The Arthur Simmons coached Labasa could have gone up in the 10th minute when they were awarded a free kick which Hussein took but it landed directly in the hands of young goalkeeper Mereseini Waqali.
Kula Girls Captain Sofi Diyalowai opened the account for Labasa in the 35th minute after she neatly finishing off a set-up from Shayal Sindhika and Veniana Ranadi.
Five minutes later, a through pass from Kumar found an unmarked Volitikoro as she powered in a volley giving Waqali no chance at all.
Rao was carried out of the field after she sustained a knee injury and Stella Naivalulevu took the field.
Just a minute away from the half-time break, all went from bad to worse for Ba when a defensive blunder allowed Volitikoro to find the mark from stylish Kumar and bag her second goal.
Labasa impressively led by 3-0 at halftime.
The second half was pretty tensed and tight with both coaches ringing in changes and sending fresh players to keep the tempo of the game up.
Ba took a more aggressive approach in the second half and lifted the tempo of their game.
Left-back Angeleen Rekha injected some life in their comeback by finding the back of the net.
Ba president Sharlene Lockington, who also stepped up in the match to guide the side replaced Sainiana Niubalavu with young debutant Asela Cokanasiga to add more strength to their defence.
Ba’s joy was cut short when a midfield pass saw Volitikoro score her hat-trick after she found goalkeeper Waqali out of her box.
A defensive blunder on the other end ignite some hope for Ba as Nasau pulled another one back in the 61st minute to keep them in the contest.
A few minutes later, Labasa coach made a tactical change putting Sonia Alfred and Laite Matebalavu in place of experienced Hussein and Sindhika to keep the pressure going.
Ba applied pressure which Labasa failed to resist and a set-up from Captain Luisa Tamanitoakula saw Nasau beat the Labasa defenders and chip the ball into the net to make the last five minutes of the encounter more interesting.
Ba made three changes and fielded Lavenia Nairoqo, Ria Naresh and Kinisemere Ravai in place of Sisilia Kuladina, Titilia Waqabaca and Asela Cokanasiga.
Labasa managed to cling onto its lead till the final whistle to clinch the title.
Labasa-Adi Tuwai (GK), Filomena Racea, Vanisha Kumar ©, Shayal Sindhika (Laite Matebalavu), Aliza Hussein (Sonia Alfred), Jotivini Tabua, Anasimeci Volitikoro, Veniana Ranadi, Unaisi Tuberi, Sonali Rao, Sofi Diyalowai.
Ba- Mereseini Waqali (GK), Louisa Simmons, Cema Nasau, Luisa Tamanitoakula, Titilia Waqabaca (Ria Naresh), Sainiana Niubalavu (Asela Cokanasiga), Sisilia Kuladina (Lavenia Nairoqo), Narieta Leba, Angeline Rekha, Annette Nainima, Mereoni Tora.