Omiya and Niigata advance to quarterfinals - Empress's Cup JFA 44th Japan Women's Football Championship
18 December 2022
The fourth round of the Empress's Cup JFA 44th Japan Women's Football Championship took place on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 December. At Tochigi Green Stadium, three WE League sides played their first match of the competition.
Featured Match 1
Omiya Ardija VENTUS 1-0 (1-0, 0-0) Waseda University
The match between Omiya Ardija VENTUS (WE/Saitama), currently ranked fifth in the WE League, and Waseda University (Kanto 2/Tokyo), the only student team to reach the fourth round, saw an early goal scored right after kick-off.
In the second minute, Omiya’s YAMAZAKI Marumi surprised the opposing goalkeeper with a strong right-footed shot from a distance to register her first goal since joining the team. Waseda University, who has shown an impressive run in this tournament by defeating three teams from the Nadeshiko League Division 1, demonstrated a strong desire to compete for the ball and attacked with TAKAHASHI Hina, who is set to join Chifure AS Elfen Saitama (WE/Saitama) next season, at the centre of their attacks. In the 37th minute, MUNAKATA Minami crossed the ball from the left to setup the header of TSUKIJI Iku, but this attempt went wide of the goal, as Omiya took a 1-0 lead into halftime.
With the addition of INOUE Ayaka, Omiya increased their pressure in the second half, but led by NATSUME Ayumi, Waseda University displayed a tenacious defensive effort to maintain the score. In the 69th minute, YOSHINO Mao tried to capitalise on an errant pass made by the opponents, but her attempt was denied by the Omiya goalkeeper STAMBAUGH Hannah. After a hard fought battle, Omiya managed to fend off Waseda University to advance to the quarterfinals with a 1-0 win.
Featured Match 2
Albirex Niigata Ladies 2-0 (1-0, 1-0) JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies
Following their 1-1 draw at the WE League, 11th placed Albirex Niigata Ladies (WE/Niigata) and ninth placed JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies (WE/Chiba) squared off for the second time in two weeks.
Similar to the first match between Omiya and Waseda University, the first goal was scored in the second minute, when MICHIGAMI Ayaka converted the corner kick delivered by SONODA Yuna to give Niigata the lead. Chiba, last year’s runners-up, attempted to tie the score with shots from KISHIKAWA Natsuki and OTAKI Ami, but Niigata goalkeeper HIRAO Chika stopped both of their attempts.
Chiba continued to build their momentum in the second half, but it was Niigata who scored the next goal. In the 56th minute, Michigami converted the sharp cross delivered by KITAGAWA Hikaru to mark her second goal of the match. Chiba attempted to come back by bringing on IMADA Sara and SHIROWA Reina from the bench, but Niigata held off the late surge made by last year’s runners-up to win the match 2-0 and move on to the quarterfinals.
Coaches and Players' Comments
FW #7 YAMAZAKI Marumi (Omiya Ardija VENTUS)
Although we are not satisfied with our overall performance, the early goal allowed us to paly with composure for the rest of the match. I was able to score exactly how I wanted after spotting that the goalkeeper was out of position. It was my first goal since joining Omiya and I am glad I was able to contribute to the team’s victory. Next week we will be back in the WE League and we will try to rejoice with our fans in our last home game of the year and build our momentum for the Empress's Cup quarterfinals at the start of the new year.
GOTO Fumi, Coach (Waseda University)
It's very frustrating, but I think we gave what we've built up over the past three matches and what we can give now. The players showed plenty of desire to win the match, but they needed to make better decisions on the pitch, especially considering how many fouls we gave up and how we lost possession of the ball. We will do our best to win through the Kobe round to defend our title at the All Japan Women's University Football Championship.
FW #11 MICHIGAMI Ayaka (Albirex Niigata Ladies)
This was our first win in a while. I hope I have lived up to the expectations of my teammates, coaches, and supporters who never stopped believing in me. I was able to score the first goal because my teammates set up a block for me, so it was a goal scored by the entire team. When I scored the second goal, (Kitamura) Hikaru delivered a great ball to me, so I am glad I was able to give her an assist. We still have work to do in the league, so we must remain positive and compete in the upcoming game.
SARUSAWA Shinji, Coach (JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies)
We weren’t able to find our rhythm and the early goal really made the game tough on us. We also conceded as we were gaining momentum in the second half. This was a match we really wanted to win, so I am very disappointed, but it served as a timely reminder that we still have work to do. We must make the most of this experience and try to prepare ourselves ahead of our next league match against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Urawa Reds Ladies.
Empress's Cup JFA 44th Japan Women's Football Championship
Tournament Duration: Sat. 26 November 2022 - Sat. 28 January 2023
【1st Round】Sat. 26, Sun. 27 November
【2nd Round】Sat. 3, Sun. 4 December
【3rd Round】Sat. 10, Sun. 11 December
【4th Round】Sat. 17, Sun. 18 December
【Quarterfinals】Sun. 15 January 2023
【Semi-Finals】Sun. 22 January 2023
【Final】Sun. 28 January 2023
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