Trinity Women’s Soccer: 4
TU Dublin City Campus: 2
Trinity Women’s Soccer are now through to the final of the Rustler’s Women’s Division One Playoffs after a comfortable home victory against Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) City Campus in College Park this afternoon. A dry pitch and a moderate breeze ensured a fast-paced contest throughout with the home side, opting for an alternate white and black kit, able to take advantage of the playing conditions.
After a brief period TU Dublin dominance, it was the home side who took their chances best when striker, Aoife Robinson, found the net off of a well-placed ball from Ali Flaherty’s corner with nine minutes gone. Trinity seemed to let the early lead go to their head as they gave away possession almost immediately, and it took resilient efforts from Emma Gallagher and Clíodhna Ní Shé to clear their lines.
Nevertheless, Trinity were starting to impose their will on the visitors with the chemistry between winger Tara Coleman and Robinson asking serious questions of TU Dublin’s defence. Coleman, who was notably bandaged on her left knee didn’t seem to be too affected and the bursts she from Trinity’s right flank gave the opposition several moments of panic throughout the first period.
If TU Dublin were to get themselves into the contest they would have to rely on lapses of concentration within the Trinity team, and so was the case when a communication breakdown between the Trinity defenders put the visitors in a simple one-on-one with Trinity shot-stopper Nicole Hanley. An admittedly soft goal conceded by the home side did nothing to deter their aggression in attack when they restored their lead just four minutes later with a sensational individual effort by Robinson saw her lob the ball over the keeper from 25 yards out.
Trinity now smelled blood in the water and subjugated TU Dublin to relentless attack after attack and they almost doubled their lead when Coleman ran unmarked into the box but the cross had just too much weight for her. Robinson continued to duck and weave and managed to use her pace to get behind, with sometimes up to three defenders needed to neutralize her threat to the visitors’ goal.
The home side were becoming very familiar with the TU Dublin goal as yet another well-taken corner from Flaherty saw Coleman’s header go just a whisker wide. The ensuing goal-kick went straight back to Trinity and a powerful strike by midfielder Niamh Kane from some 30 yards forced a save that hit the bar on 41 minutes. TU Dublin could count their blessings that they had not conceded more by this point. On the stroke of half-time, Robinson highlighted her impressive ball control in another effort that was comfortably saved. Trinity were surely the happier side as the referee blew for the interval.
At the beginning of the second half, the home side were not one to sit back and defend their narrow lead. Despite TU Dublin’s best efforts to counter Robinson’s pace with two deep defenders, she sprinted past them to almost get her hat-trick on 47 minutes. It was at this point that Trinity began to make use of their strength in depth, with Jennifer Huebner going off injured for Jacklynn Gonzalez, the visitors now had to contend with pace coming at them from two different sides of the pitch. Choosing not to risk any other injuries, Tara Coleman was replaced by another talismanic player in Claire Nolan on 52 minutes, whose chemistry with Robinson was no less evident.
It did not take long for Nolan to establish herself, and a clear pulldown in the box by a TU Dublin defender on 65 minutes provided both Trinity and Robinson to score their third goal of the contest. The superbly-taken penalty was erased effectively immediately when a long ball from TU Dublin caught the Trinity defence flat-footed with the ball buried into the far corner of Hanley’s net.
The home side managed to avoid pressing the panic button and continued to be far more threatening in attack. The physicality from both Kane and Ní Shé ensured that they could play far more openly than their narrow lead suggested. In doing so, both Tini Schelling and Amy Ewing were able to press forward, the latter unlucky not to convert on 71 minutes from distance.
Trinity were finally able to extend their lead when Flaherty’s corner found TU’s tormentor-in-chief, Robinson who tapped in from close range. Trinity were able to avoid ceding their advantage as they had done earlier by locking up tight at the back and suffocating the TU Dublin attack who were now forced to contend for the ball near the sidelines. Flaherty was eventually replaced by team captain Áine Tucker on 85 minutes with the home side well in control. Robinson could have scored a fifth had she not shot straight at the keeper.
The visitors threatened to make the contest interesting when a free kick saved by Hanley rolled under the keeper and almost into the net as stoppage time approached. It was not to be as Trinity continued to control possession for the remainder of the match.
In speaking with Trinity News, Trinity co-manager Dan Hobbs praised the team for their efforts in both the contest as well as over the past few months. “[It was] a great game a really great game, we’re into the promotional final, one of the first times Trinity has ever gotten into it, ever, a really great group of girls playing this that have done really well over the past year or so.” Despite the poor start to the season after a 2-1 loss away to Maynooth, the team was definitely of a high calibre according to Hobbs. “We always had a good squad, Maynooth was a good learning curve for us to get used to playing together because soccer in university is very different from club soccer, I always thought we had a good team from the get-go and always believed we could get into the final.”
Trinity Women’s Soccer will now hope to cap off a memorable season in the Division One final where victory will see them promoted to the Premier Division for the 2019/20 season.