A glance across the promotion-winning season
Southampton FC Women had a standout season, securing promotion to the FA Women's Championship, winning the FA Women's National Southern Premier Division and FA Women's National League Cup in the process. Here, we have a look at some of the season's best bits.
FA Cup win vs Bristol City
Saints welcomed Championship side Bristol City to St Mary's in the Vitality Women's FA Cup Fourth Round Proper. Having beaten Ilminster Town 7-0 and local rivals Portsmouth at Fratton Park in the previous rounds, Marieanne Spacey-Cale's side were eager to continue their cup run.
An in-form Bristol City pushed Saints throughout the whole 90 minutes and beyond, with the game having to be decided in extra time. Ella Morris latched onto an Alisha Ware cross to knock home early into the addition period, before some last minute drama saw Bristol City's Jesse Woolley send her penalty over the bar, much to the relief of a buzzing St Mary's.
With their overarching aim for the season being promotion to the Championship, the FA Cup game was the perfect opportunity for Saints to get a taste for the level. With their promotion now confirmed, they will be hoping that they can challenge those teams, such as Bristol City, that ended their campaigns in the top half of the Championship table.
Securing the league title against Portsmouth on home soil
Confirming your place at the top of the table is always a special moment, but the Women's team shared that momentous occasion with 5,145 fans at St Mary's, beating neighbours Portsmouth in the process.
A dominant performance from Saints saw them take all three points, as Sophia Pharoah and Lucia Kendall hit the target on the night, either side of half-time.
There were plenty of celebrations after the full-time whistle, as Saints were presented with the Southern Region Premier Division winners' trophy by the Chairwoman of the FA Women's National League, with hundreds of fans sticking around to cheer the victorious women into the tunnel after the team had taken the time to meet young supporters, friends and family in the crowd.
leeta rutherfordchampions against portsmouth at st mary's - it's just a dream for everyone in the team, really. it couldn't have worked out in a better way.
FA Women's National League Cup winners vs Huddersfield Town
With the FA Women's National League Southern Premier title wrapped up against Portsmouth, attention turned to the FA Women's National League Cup.
Despite being handed some tough ties, besting Cheltenham Town, Ipswich Town, MK Dons, Hashtag United and Crawley Wasps before taking on Huddersfield Town at Damson Park.
Despite a slow start, Saints went on the win the game 3-0, with Alisha Ware opening the scoring at the end of the first half, before Lucia Kendall provided two exceptional hits to seal the trophy lift - the second set of celebrations within a week.
Saints scored an incredible 131 goals during their league campaign, conceding only 17 in the process.
Ella Pusey claimed the Southern Premier Division's top goalscorer award, scoring 24 league goals throughout the season, while teammate Lucia Kendall came in third, scoring 16 goals in 19 appearances.
Saints also had a habit of putting games to bed with their clinical edge in front of goal, netting nine within the 90 four times over the course of the season - both home games against Keynsham Town and once apiece against Hounslow and Gillingham. Looking at the season as a whole, Saints scored an average of over five goals per game.
FA Women's National League Championship Play-Off Final
Saving the best till last, Saints secured their place in the FA Women's Championship for the 2022/23 season after beating Wolves 1-0 at Stockport County FC.
A record breaking crowd turned out to watch the play-off final in which Saints had the lion's share of the opportunities in the first half. Sophia Pharoah got the all-important goal after latching onto a perfectly weighted Alice Griffiths ball and rounding the keeper to slot home.
Despite Wolves going a player down at the end of the half following a second yellow for Kelly Darby, they fought hard in the second half to deny Saints their second - and a more comfortable end to the game.
However, it was Saints' day and come the final whistle, Marieanne Spacey-Cale's side deservedly lifted the trophy and secured promotion to the FA Women's Championship.
marieanne spacey-calewe're now in a position to step up to the championship and there's some really good squads in there. we'll embrace the challenge and we're looking forward to it.