(Photo by Mo Muir)
Saturday 14th March: Solway Sharks Ladies 2 – Widnes Wild Women’s Team 4 (WNIHL Div 1N)
The Widnes Wild Women team secured the WNIHL Division 1 North League title with a 2 – 4 win over Solway Sharks Ladies in Dumfries on Saturday.
The previous meetings between these two teams had been full of goals, with the Wild’s 9 – 5 league win over Solway back in December the lowest scoring game among them but this was a much closer affair and it took until the eighteenth minute for the deadlock to be broken.
The Wild’s former Belgian international player Leen de Decker put Widnes into the lead but they were pegged back just 15 seconds later with an equaliser from Solway’s top goal scorer Kimberley Breingan. The score remained 1 – 1 at the first period break and the Wild women still had a lot of work to do.
They edged back into the lead again with a second goal from de Decker on 25 minutes and a goal from Sarah Aspinall doubled the Wild advantage on 30 minutes.
With a 1 – 3 lead at the second period break, there was finally daylight between the two teams but the Sharks were in no mood to give up and Breingan scored their second goal of the game on 45 minutes to set up an incredibly tense finale.
Solway outshot the Wild women by a considerable margin throughout the game but Stephanie Drinkwater put in an heroic display in the Widnes goal to keep them at bay. Leen de Decker scored her third goal of the game on 57 minutes and that was enough to secure both the win and the league title.
The result mans that the Wild women now have a total of 16 points and a game yet to play. Solway Sharks have played all their league games for a total of 14 points. The other title challenger in this fascinating three-way chase for the league title – Telford Wrekin Raiders – have two more games yet to play but, even if they win both of those, the best they can achieve is 16 points, level with Widnes, and the Wild women would still take the league title on the basis of results between the two teams.
They have the chance to finish clear on points at the top of the table when they finish their regular league schedule with a game away to bottom club Nottingham Vipers on Saturday 18th April.
The Wild Women have also made sure of a place in the end-of-season Play Offs – the be held at iceSheffield on 30th & 31st May – where they will take on the top teams from Division 1 South to play for a place in the Women’s Premier League next season.