Shillong, Jul 22: Laitkor SC and Mawlai SC set up a rematch of 2022’s final by winning their respective semifinals of the Shillong Sports Association’s Women’s League 2023 at the SSA Stadium at First Ground, Polo, here today.
Laitkor had to come from a goal down to defeat a spirited Lumparing SC 4-1 while Mawlai won a penalty shootout 4-2 against PFR Football Academy after regulation and extra time finished 1-1.
The final on 29th July will thus be a replay of 2022’s title match, which Mawlai had won 2-1 in extra time. The final will also be played at the SSA Stadium with kick-off slated for 3:30PM.
Catherine Kharkongor gave Lumparing the lead in the 15th minute by finding the back of the net with a strong shot following a corner kick. This was only the second goal that Laitkor (who after today have won all six matches this season) have conceded this season.
Laitkor then began to respond strongly, with Nisilia Majaw the main danger player on the left flank but it took until the stroke of half time before Iaraplang Nongrum (35’+2) pulled off a terrific bicycle kick from a free-kick to equalise.
Laitkor were able to carry forward that momentum into the second half, dominating the contest early on.
Some nifty footwork from Majaw enabled her to deliver a beautiful cross from deep on the left and Iaraplang was able to tap it in at the far post to give Laitkor the lead in the 55th minute.
Five minutes later Saralin Warlarpih (60′) volleyed home a corner and Iaraplang bagged her hat-trick in the 64th minute by cutting through the defence after collecting a through ball and slamming it into the back of the net.
After this period of dominance, Lumparing started to get the ball in the other half and gave the fans entertainment right to the final whistle, though they were not able to again break the defence of Laitkor, who held on for a 4-1 win. Hat-trick hero Iaraplang was named Player of the Match.
The other game was no less enthralling and it went the absolute distance, with only the tiebreaker able to separate Mawlai and PFR.
The defending champions started as firm favourites but ran up against a resolute PFR, who demonstrated that they thoroughly deserved to be in the last-four.
The two goals in open play came within a few minutes of each other in the first half. The opening one was scored by Mawlai’s Marbarin Nongrum (19′) with what looked like a cross that went deep and over PFR goalkeeper Yulity Phanrang.
However, PFR then earned a free-kick at the opposite end of the pitch some 25 yards from goal. The distance did not deter Betsheba Kharsyntiew (22′) from going for a direct attempt on goal and she nailed it expertly.
Although there was hectic action right up to the end of the second half and then into extra time, there was no separating the two sides. With dusk descending on the ground, penalties were called for and Mawlai were just a little bit better at holding their nerve in the tense shootout, carrying the contest 4-2, with Marbarin named Player of the Match.
(Shillong Sports Association photo. Laitkor’s Iaraplang Nongrum (right) prepares to take a shot that would lead to her third goal)