WOMEN'S NSW PREMIER LEAGUE
Illawarra Stingrays continued their mid-season resurgence with a hard-fought victory over Sydney University on Sunday.
Jordan Baker's first-half strike proved enough for the Rays to leave Sydney with a crucial 1-0 win to move just two points out of third position in the competition.
It was their third straight win after they had endured a shocking patch midway through the campaign which saw them drop to last on the ladder.
"It was a hard-fought game. Definitely the hardest we have had in those last three wins," coach Graham Shaw said.
"The girls put themselves on the line. We took the one chance and it proved to be the crucial one to get the three points."
The match's only goal came inside the opening half an hour.
After a nice build-up, Sophie Hancock drilled in a cross from the right flank which Baker beat the keeper to and poked home.
The Students pushed for an equaliser and forced Illawarra keeper Elyse Finlayson into some fine saves.
Michelle Foscarini had a chance for the Stingrays just before the break but the ball couldn't fall favourably in time for her to get off a shot.
The Rays then had chances to Chloe Middleton and Lucy Nolan in the second half, but neither could add to the visitors' lead.
It wouldn't matter though as Illawarra avenged the 6-0 drubbing they received from University earlier in the season.
"They were at full strength and were very similar to the team when they got us last time. But we weren't the team we were then," Shaw said.
The win was made more impressive by the absence of first-grade regulars Erica Halloway and Jess Cooper.
Shaw will welcome both back next week for a clash with leaders Macarthur Rams.
After being undefeated in their first 12 matches, the Rams have lost their last two, the latest being 1-0 to Northbridge at the weekend.