A few matches into the season Sunset women were doing so badly they did not look like potential double champions – yet that is exactly how their season finished – winning both the league and FA Cup.
Mid-way through the season their lacklustre form improved and soon they were challenging for honours, culminating in two weeks ago Sunset needing to beat Elite in the final league fixture to secure the title. That is exactly what they did with a last minute winner by skipper Gisela “GG” Gamba.
On Sunday they completed a remarkable season’s improvement with a 1-0 win in the FA Cup final against West Bay side Future thanks to a 33rd minute strike by Petra Fraelic.
Guided by manager Alan Purvis and coaches Trevor Murphy and Daniel Tathum, their hard work was fully rewarded.
“Having secured the league title with a very tense final game, the FA Cup Final gave us a chance to approach the game slightly different as there wasn’t the same type of pressure this time,” said Purvis.
“Our confidence was still sky high from the league win and we felt we could carry that into this game.
“We knew Future would be well prepared and we expected a tough game especially as we hadn’t beaten them during the league campaign, but we did feel that we were still the favourites.”
Future had by far the better first half and caused Sunset lots of problems with their formation and the movement from their front players which was excellent.
Sunset were a little ruffled but showed good resilience in defence despite a lot of pressure.
“We scored a fabulous goal in the first half and could have had a second from a great free kick that hit the bar,” Purvis said.
“At half time we discussed their movement and made some minor adjustments to how we would approach that for the second half and the players executed the game plan very well.
“Second half we were a much better unit and Future rarely threatened our goal, while we began to create more and as it opened up with Future looking to score.”
The game was always close and it could have been very different if Future had capitalised on their first half performance with a goal or two.
Sunset’s experienced players saw them through the game and they took the sting out of their performance in the second half.
“With a 1-0 lead you are always looking for the second goal to give you some breathing space but we couldn’t get that and it was still a little tense until the final whistle.
“The goal was really well worked. We won the ball in midfield and played an early ball forward to the feet of Fiona McLeod who then played a beautiful flick behind her to release Petra Fraelic on goal.
“With a defender on her back and the keeper rushing out, Petra touched it past the keeper and rounded her to score. That was Petra’s only goal of the season, but it was one of the most important.
“It’s hard to single out specific players as it really was a terrific squad effort, particularly with the heat.
“The whole defence deserve a lot of credit, not just for this game but for the entire season.
“They have been really difficult to break down which is one of the main reasons behind our success. The midfield have worked well together and we have a great unit that fully understands their roles with the formation we play.
“The strikers have not scored a lot of goals this season but they have scored when it really mattered. If there was one player to mention for the Cup final then it would have to be Petra for the goal as well as her performance, particularly as that was her last game for us as she is heading home in the summer, which is a big shame.
“Winning the double has been a fantastic achievement for the team and the club. The squad this year has really worked hard as a unit and they’ve got the rewards they deserve.
“Every season we begin with high hopes and expectations as we set high standards for the team. But success is dependent on many factors and success one season by no means guarantees you success for the next season.”
Elite, Future and Scholars will be strong again next season and Purvis will not be underestimating them. In the meantime all the Sunset crew are just savouring the double.
Cayman will host the CONCACAF women’s Under-20 here in Janurary but only Lesli Tathum, who has great potential and could be an option if the national team want to, is likely to be involved from Sunset.
Purvis added: “Special thanks to my assistant coach Trevor Murphy who unfortunately couldn’t make the Cup final due to business travel.
“Trevor has provided invaluable support to me during the season and his motivational speeches at half time have been a real influence on the team.
“Danny Tathum, who normally runs all the stats on the games, was also off island for the final.
“With the three of us making up the coaching staff I think we have a solid coaching unit that will hopefully bring more success to the women’s team in the future.”