Sunset women’s football team has had another dominant season and already has secured the league title with four games to spare.
That was achieved with a 1-0 victory over Alliance on Saturday, their third title in a row.
Sunset are on 26 points from 11 matches, and second-place Alliance, who have 16 after 12 games, can only get a maximum of 25. Scholars and Elite are both on 12. Sunset are also still on track to repeat the treble, which they did last season, having already secured the President’s Cup. They have an FA Cup semifinal this weekend against Elite.
Sunset have won seven trophies in the last three seasons alone. Sunset technical director Alan Purvis said that their goalkeeper, Jovani Hessing, has been in excellent form throughout, partly because of points picked up through intensive national team training.
He also praises the contribution of captain and key defender Sophia Dilbert, who has also had another superb campaign. Krishan Welcome has also had a solid season – her first – in defense and midfield. Jayme Farrell in center midfield has stood out too.
“Jayme has unbelievable energy levels and a great attitude,” said Purvis. “Elena Testori has been our main source of goals again this season and is a natural striker, although we’ve had to play her in midfield for a number of games as well.
“The player who gives us that extra bit of flair is young Natalie Simpson, who has great potential and has scored some crucial goals.”
He added that Simpson presents “a real handful for defenders and has the ability to beat two and three when she goes off on her runs.”
Purvis admits that this season it has been more difficult to retain motivation, but it was mainly down to long breaks from postponed games and national team duties.
They have also had a number of injuries and absences for other reasons, which has made it challenging getting a team together some weekends.
“We always have a big squad at the start of a season, but those numbers quickly drop off when they can’t meet the demands of weekly training and games.”
He added that every season gets more difficult in attracting new players, which is why it was crucial the club introduced a girls youth program.
Sunset now has an Under-12 program coordinated by former captain and star striker Gisela Gamba, a U-16 side coached by John Pitcairn and Lana Jarvis, and a U-18 team coached by Gamba and Danny Tathum.
The overall plan is for the players to flow through the various age groups into the senior team. However, it will be a few years before the seniors reap rewards.
Doesn’t it get boring winning all the time? “Not at all,” Purvis insisted. “As the saying goes, ‘winning is a mentality’ and not only have we built that over the years, but we have cemented it into how we play.
“At the moment it is very difficult for us to lose games as we have such a strong resilience within the team, even when we are not playing well. At times this season we have not played our usual dominating fluent football and have had to really grind out results and ‘win ugly’ at times.”
They have won every trophy going for the last three seasons and there’s a real determination in the squad to hang on to those for as long as they can.
Purvis added that he is not taking victory against Elite for granted. “It will certainly be a tough game for us as we are yet to beat Elite this season, having drawn twice and lost once in league games.”
He is aware that Elite has some quality players, including Shenel Gall, Jessica Ebanks and Amy Mobley.
“I’m sure they will make this game very difficult for us like they did the previous games. They had a tough start to the season themselves, but they have certainly improved recently and it should be an exciting game.”