Producing a spectacular moment to win a championship with the last play of the game is everyone’s dream in sport.
Last week at the National Under 19 Club Football championships in Napier that desire became a reality for Petone’s Olivia Gibbs.
With her side tied 0-0 against Nelson, Gibbs was fouled 30 yards out from goal. What followed was a spectacular right to left strike that flew beyond the wall, past the keeper, and into the roof of the net.
“You know when you hit it, it feels right, It feels good. When it went in, I couldn’t believe it. It was just pure excitement and relief. It was crazy, I’m still getting over it,” Gibbs said.
“I haven't scored a goal with that amount of pressure behind it. I didn’t realise it was the last minute of the game. Nobody told me. I didn’t turn around and look at the scoreboard. I was like, “ I'm just going to do it otherwise we're eventually going to penalties.
“I’m not going to lie, I've been sent it many times and enjoyed watching it. Ethan Claridge is goalie in our boys team and he got it from the perfect angle so I could watch it dip in. I remember afterwards a lot of the girls were crying. It’s unbelievable.”
Petone had modest expectations prior to the tournament, hoping to “get out of pool play.” Gibbs ensured they started strongly by scoring the winning goal in a 1-0 win against North Wellington. In their next outing Petone came unstuck against a Napier selection (2-3) before holding Nelson to 1-1 draw.
“We didn’t think we could win it until the last day. Everyone played so well. It’s crazy. Kate Marra and Devyn Crawford won so much ball and bring experience from playing in the senior women's’ league. Zara Bowen was unbelievable in goal. The whole team did so well.”
Gibbs' free kick wasn’t a flash in the pan. The attacking midfielder was named tournament MVP and stung Taradale in the semi-finals with a similar effort.
“I always take the free-kicks from about 30 out. Any further out and I’d look to play it forward rather than shoot it.
“The coach took the credit for helping me practice from the same place,” she laughed.
Taradale was accounted for 2-1 but initially that moment didn’t carry over to the decider against Nelson.
“It seemed like a real close game. I thought they had the better of the first-half and we dominated the second.
“I remember winning the free kick clearly. Our right winger ran down the line and crossed it in, but missed hit-it, tried another cross and it came to me. I tried to feed another player but got fouled in a late challenge outside the box and the rest is history.”
Gibbs spent five years in the Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt First XI and identified “friendships” and “beating St Mary’s College” as her personal highlights.
She studies commerce at Victoria University and her twin brother Michael plays in defence for Petone. Her favourite player is Lionel Messi.
Story by Adam Julian/ Photos by Petone Football
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