Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies 0 - 1 Albirex Niigata Ladies
Urawa's five-year wait for a third league title came to an end today, but not in the manner they would either have expected nor hoped for - a deflating loss to Niigata resulted in a very quiet atmosphere at the final whistle. Injury to Naomoto Hikaru meant Goto Michi moving into midfield with Otaki Nami making a rare start up front. Niigata were unchanged.
Urawa looked less confident than they usually do, and may have been slightly nervous, even if they knew they were almost certain to win the league regardless of the result. Niigata went about their business in the usual fashion, and with nineteen minutes remaining substitute Oishi Sayaka scored the winning goal to give them all three points and move them into third - their highest ever finish.
Urawa were buoyant by the time of the trophy presentation, though more work will be needed if they are to retain the title next year. Niigata's fourth consecutive win sees them enter the Empress' Cup in fine form, and a repeat of last year's final appearance is attainable.
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies:
Hirao Chika, Dozono Ayano, Norimatsu Ruka, Kohata Shiho, Wada Naoko, Goto Michi (capt), Shibata Hanae, Kishikawa Natsuki, Kato Chika, Kira Chinatsu, Otaki Ami
Subs: Seike Kiko (Otaki Ami, 76 mins), Saito Akane (Kato Chika, 86 mins), Nagano Fuka (Kira Chinatsu, 90+1 mins)
Unused subs: Ikeda Sakiko, Ishii Saki, Chiba Minori, Tomari Shiho
Albirex Niigata Ladies:
Ichitani Tomoko, Obara Yuria, Kitahara Kana, Yamamoto Arina, Kojima Miku, Saito Yuri, Takahashi Haruka, Sakaguchi Moeno, Kamionobe Megumi (capt), Saeki Aya, Tiffany McCarty
Subs: Oishi Sayaka (Tiffany McCarty, 67 mins), Yamazaki Marumi (Sakaguchi Moeno, 74 mins), Yamada Shoko (Saeki Aya, 86 mins)
Unused subs: Takahashi Tomoko, Sayama Momoko
Scorers: Oishi Sayaka (71 mins)
Okayama Yunogo Belle 0 - 1 Nippon TV Beleza
Beleza naturally went into this game determined to win even if catching Urawa was never likely. Beleza named an unchanged side though Belle brought Kado Yuka back into their side along with Kitaura Miho. Like many others this season, this game was decided in favour of Beleza via a goal from Sakaguchi Mizuho, who scored thirteen this season. In the fifty-fifth minute some tidy build up play from Beleza ended with Sakaguchi heading in a fine cross from Shimizu Risa.
Belle had very few chances in the game and looked tired, which is not unexpected given the demands on their small squad, with little squad rotation or substitutions made during the season. Ultimately finishing fourth having won the Regular Series will be seen as a massive disappointment. Beleza finish second for the fourth successive season, and they will know that they had the potential in them to win the league had they not slipped up in earlier matches.
Okayama Yunogo Belle:
Fukumoto Miho (capt), Kado Yuka, Kitaura Miho, Mizushima Kumi, Takahashi Sachie, Kuzuma Riyo, Nakano Manami, Miyama Aya, Asano Miki, Arimachi Saori, Matsuoka Miki
Subs: Fushiki Kaho (Kuzuma Riyo, 59 mins), Nakada Maiko (Asano Miki, 83 mins)
Unused subs: Aoyagi Maririn, Taniguchi Kikumi, Kawano Saki, Tanaka Mayu
Nippon TV Beleza:
Yamashita Ayaka, Shimizu Risa, Iwashimizu Azusa (capt), Kinoshita Shiori, Ariyoshi Saori, Hara Natsuko, Sakaguchi Mizuho, Sumida Rin, Momiki Yuka, Hasegawa Yui, Shimada Chiaki
Subs: Tanaka Mina (Shimada Chiaki, 77 mins), Muramatsu Tomoko (Sumida Rin, 90+2 mins)
Unused subs: Soyama Kanako, Doko Mayo, Kobayashi Yayoi
Scorers: Sakaguchi Mizuho (55 mins)
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies 1 - 1 INAC Kobe Leonessa
JEF United and INAC Kobe finished fifth and sixth respectively after they drew their final match. Ikadai Risa gave the home side a third-minute lead with assistance from Fukusawa Risa who capitalised on defensive hesitancy and carelessness. Thirty minutes later INAC Kobe were level, this season's second-highest scorer Takase Megumi shooting powerfully into the top corner from outside the box.
The only other aspect of note was the sending off of Beverly Goebel-Yanez with eleven minutes remaining, with the American astonished at being dismissed. This season there was a total of six red cards shown.
JEF United will probably be slightly disappointed that they couldn't finish any higher than fifth, though they have had an erratic season. The management at INAC Kobe will be understandably aghast at how poorly they have done this year, and drastic signings may well be in order - the kind of signings that made them Japan's top team.
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies:
Yamane Erina, Wakabayashi Minori, Sakuramoto Naoko (capt), Chino Shoko, Ueno Saki, Hosaka Nodoka, Setoguchi Kozue, Kawamura Mari, Fukasawa Risa, Ikadai Risa, Sugasawa Yuika
Subs: Anzai Yuka (Setoguchi Kozue, 58 mins), Kamogawa Miho (Ikadai Risa, 73 mins)
Unused subs: Nemoto Mio, Tsurumi Ayaka, Oya Madoka, Matsuura Nagisa, Yamamoto Naomi
Scorers: Ikadai Risa (3 mins)
INAC Kobe Leonessa:
Kaihori Ayumi, Kai Junko, Isokane Midori, Miyake Shiori, Minamiyama Chiaki, Nakajima Emi, Sawa Homare, Beverly Goebel-Yanez, Kawasumi Nahomi, Takase Megumi (capt), Tanaka Yoko
Subs: Masuya Rika (Tanaka Yoko, 65 mins), Watanabe Ayaka (Nakajima Emi, 78 mins)
Unused subs: Takenaka Rei, Nakada Ayu, Kyokawa Mai
Scorers: Takase Megumi (33 mins)
Sent off: Beverly Goebel-Yanez