By Kevin Darling, Port Moresby 2015 Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 16 – Cook Islands won its first ever Pacific Games soccer medal as its women’s team sealed an impressive 2-0 win against Samoa in the bronze medal match at Sir Hubert Murray Stadium on Thursday.
Tepaeru Toka (COK) and Maeve Carr (COK) scored either side of halftime as Cook Islands won its first – and only – match of the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games to secure bronze.
“This is 100 times better than amazing. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” said goalscorer Toka.
“I had my doubts about whether we would win because we’d seen Samoa play and they looked pretty good, so I’m kind of surprised. There will be a party when we get home. Maybe we’ll get a treat, like a flash dinner or some cash.”
Cook Islands had lost two and drawn one of its previous three matches in the competition, only making the semifinals on goal difference, but it was the better side throughout the bronze medal game.
It took a deserved lead when Toka’s pace proved too much for the static Samoan defenders.
The striker raced onto Carr’s (COK) hopeful high pass and dinked the ball past onrushing goalkeeper Marjorie Toru (SAM), who could only watch it trickle agonisingly over the line.
Cook Islands never looked like relinquishing its lead as the game’s standout player – the graceful Lee Maoate-Cox (COK) – marshalled its defence superbly.
And it was no surprise when, shortly after the break, the scoreline was doubled.
When captain Elizabeth Harmon (COK) swung in a dangerous corner, Carr prodded the ball home from close range after seeing her initial attempt cleared off the line by Shontelle Stevens (SAM).
Momen’s later, a lifeline presented itself for Samoa as Monique Fischer (SAM) found herself with time and space in the box, but she could only send a weak effort over the bar.
It proved to be the closest Samoa would come to saving the game, as Cook Islands comfortably held out for a famous victory.
“All the hard work and sacrifice we’ve put in to get here has paid off. Bronze is like gold for us and it’s a big achievement for our small country,” said midfielder Mii Piri (COK).
“I just hope this will grow the game in Cook Islands and encourage more young girls to take up the game so we can get more players coming through.”
Despite losing in the bronze medal game, Samoa coach Tala Salamasina (SAM) was upbeat about his team’s efforts at Port Moresby 2015.
“Although things didn’t go our way today, no Samoan team has achieved what these girls have achieved and I’m proud of them,” he said.
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