Cambridge’s eight-match unbeaten run has come to an end after losing a top-of-the-table clash 4-3 at Thames in the Waikato Women’s Division Two.
Cambridge started best against the competition leaders when Lorena Harrera supplied Marie O’Neill for her to finish the move.
Two minutes later, Cambridge had the chance to double their lead when Olivia Sutherland missed from the penalty spot.
Almost immediately, Thames broke forward and scored from a one-on-one opportunity.
In the 25th minute, Thames produced a similar move, breaking quickly onto a long ball, to take the lead 2-1.
But Cambridge came back when O’Neill scored from a cross from skipper Steph Upton.
Tied 2-2 at the interval, the competition’s two best teams prepared for an even second half, knowing the game might be decided by half-chances and tiring legs.
Thames took a 3-2 lead in the 64th minute and Cambridge levelled in the 68th minute when Sutherland scored from an Upton pass.
The deciding goal came in the 82nd minute when Thames again exploited a long ball through the defence for their striker to race onto.
The Hill Homes Player of the Day was Olivia Sutherland.
The result means Thames go nine points clear in the competition with three rounds left to play.
To overhaul them, Cambridge need to win all three (including the last game of the season, at home to Thames), and Thames will need to stumble in both their remaining fixtures against two sides from Te Awamutu.
Regardless, it’s been a good season for a youthful Cambridge team whose players have steadily improved under coach Jamie McKean.