One of the most improved football teams of the season has to be Sunset women’s team who won the league in dramatic fashion on Saturday.
They had to win their final league game against top club Elite at the T.E. McField Annex to claim the title.
It looked ominous for Sunset as the league’s top scorer Shanelle Frederick notched her 10th of the season early in the game.
Sunset pressed and absorbed Elite’s counter-attacks throughout and were rewarded midway through the second half when tenacious striker and skipper Gisela “GG” Gamba equalised.
With the clock ticking down and Frederick constantly threatening, the urgency for a winner grew for Sunset as the reigning champs contained them.
GG chased and scurried for everything and with seconds remaining the ball dropped perfectly and with a superb angled volley she hammered it home for a winner of the highest quality.
It was a fitting end to a marvellous campaign that saw Sunset rise from the depths and also emulate the men’s team that waltzed away with the First Division title to be promoted to the Premier League.
Sunset have won the league twice now and been runners-up a couple of times. They have also won the FA Cup twice and been beaten finalists three times. They are hoping to make it three wins this weekend.
Sunset achieved 20 points from their 12 games, Elite managed 18. Third were Future with 17 points and Scholars were fourth with eight. In the other league game Future beat Scholars, 1-0, thanks to a Sophia Dilbert strike.
Gamba was the league’s second highest scorer with four goals, Future’s Brittni Ebanks scored three and on two were Jetena Bodden (Scholars) and Juliana Szalay (Elite).
Sunset women’s head coach Alan Purvis has guided them for a decade. This was up there with his most satisfying result.
“We were bottom of the league after the first five games with two defeats and three draws,” Purvis said.
“Besides the first game, which we lost 3-0 to Future, we weren’t playing badly, we just couldn’t seem to score.
“We made a few tweaks to our tactics and it reaped rewards as we went on to be unbeaten for the rest of the season, winning five and drawing two and climbing from bottom to top in the process.”
Gisela Gamba top scored for them with four. They did not score a lot this year and a lot of their wins were 1-0.
“We threatened on many occasions to put up big scores but they never materialised,” Purvis said. “Gisela plays like a female version of Messi! And she’s from Argentina, too.”
GG is on the short list to be player of the season, which will be revealed at Sunset’s end of season awards bash. It will be a difficult decision as there are a few contenders.
Purvis added: “We seemed to make hard work of all of our games this season by not taking our chances.
“But probably the hardest was the last one due to what was at stake. Going down to an early goal and then fighting back to win it in such dramatic circumstances in the last minute was an amazing feeling. There was a lot of emotion released at that final whistle.” Plans are already under way for next season in terms of player recruitment and Sunset hope to add some quality players to boost the squad.
“We need to plan early as we always start the season with 30-plus players but finish with a squad of around 15.”
Any plans for a preseason tour will extend as far as West Bay and George Town, joked Purvis.
“We need to strengthen the squad generally in terms of numbers. But if there is one key player we need it’s a natural goal scorer. We hope we’ve found one already and she will be a fantastic addition to the squad if all goes to plan.”
The turnaround from bottom club to champs is still astonishing.
“Those first five games were pretty low especially when we were sitting at the bottom, as we knew we were not that bad.
“We were playing okay but not creating enough and not scoring. We identified the problem and fixed it and got the results.
“We were also helped by making a great signing in January, Karlie Cross, who really gave the team a boost.
“Mepco sponsor the club so a big mention to them for their continued support. Also a big thank you to Danny Tathum who joined the coaching staff around February and has been a great addition to the Sunset family.
“We’re now hoping to complete a memorable double by winning the FA Cup for the third time this weekend.
“It’s great to see the club as a whole having a great season and the men will be back playing in the Premier League next season, which is where they should be.
“Congratulations to Gareth Thacker (Sunset men’s head coach) for all of his effort, commitment and sacrifice, and of course to the rest of the lads and coaching staff.”
There are three matches on Sunday, to be played at either the T.E. McField Annex or Truman Bodden Sports Complex. At press time the venues were not confirmed although the matches will definitely go ahead.
They are boys Under-17 FA Cup final between Academy and Future (3pm), women’s FA Cup final between Sunset and Future (5pm) and the Premier League play-off when Roma take on North Side (7pm).