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Samoa Women won the Bronze medal in a 3rd place playoff match set up by Oceania Hockey after the end of Women’s FIH World League Round 1. Fapene Malu scored the 2-1 Golden Goal against Vanuatu to secure Samoa's first-ever medal. This result also meant Samoa finishing 5th ahead of Vanuatu in this OPC edition.
Pauline Sulu Paulo, Malu’s mother, is also part of the team. Being extremly happy with the result, Paulo said “I’m very proud of her.” Mother and daughter started playing hockey in 2011 and now, Malu's Golden Goal secured Samoa's best result in history.
“Both teams were trying their very best. We scored the first goal in the first half and then Vanuatu equalised" Paulo continued. “That score is for our country. You know that Samoa was hit by a cyclone, so this is a win for our country.”
In their previous encounter on Monday, Samoa had convincingly beaten Vanuatu 4-1. The Vanuatu Women were striving not to have a repeat of that defeat.
A short corner in the 5th minute was hit over the cross bar by Violina Nofoaiga of Samoa. Another shot a few minutes later by Atogugaaletuitoga Vaiau went wide. Samoa had early chances to open the scoring but weren’t able to finish their moves.
Samoa however was able to score first a minute from half-time with a goal from Tuila Lenora Pereira. The teams headed into the break with Samoa having a one-point buffer over Vanuatu.
Jubilation came early in the second half for Vanuatu, when in the 40th minute Iso Poilapa scored their equaliser. With it being the first time Vanuatu were fielding a Women’s side in an OPC tournament, they had never been so close to winning a match, let alone a bronze medal.
Samoa had a chance to take the lead again with two short corners consecutively in the 46th minute but a now fired up Vanuatu defence foiled both attacks.
In the second half Samoa kept play mostly in Vanuatu territory but the Samoans weren’t able to put the right finishing touches to produce points. The superb goal keeping of Vanuatu’s Lisbeth Samel kept the scores level. With only 10 minutes remaining on the clock it became a question of if Vanuatu could hold out the Samoans till the full-time siren and force them to extra-time.
In extra-time it was Malu scoring the Golden Goal.