A late goal. A matchwinner. A perfect parting gift.

The script could not have been written any better for Lion City Sailors Women’s team forward Paula Druschke.

Playing her final game for the Sailors last evening (21 May) before returning to Germany following the end of her school exchange programme, Paula was determined to leave the club with a bang.

And the 20-year-old duly delivered.

With the Sailors unable to find a way past a resolute Tampines Rovers side in their Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL) fixture at Choa Chu Kang stadium, Paula was sent on from the bench to provide more goal threat for her side.

It proved to be a masterstroke, as she produced a moment of magic in the 87th minute – a first-time curler with her left-foot that sent the ball into the top corner of the net – to secure a 1-0 win for the reigning WPL champions.

“That goal was something every one of us wanted so badly for Paula,” Sailors Women Head Coach Yeong Sheau Shyan said. “Paula’s brought a lot of energy and laughter to the team. She’s always raring to go, ready to run at defenders with the ball, and gives her all in every training session and match.

“The team adores Paula, not just as a player but as a person. She’s family forever and we will miss her a lot.”

However, while the Sailors’ night ended on a good note thanks to Paula’s goal, Sheau Shyan admitted that the outcome of the game could have easily turned out differently.

“The game really could have gone either way today. We were very fortunate that Paula gave us a valuable parting gift,” Sheau Shyan mused. “Although it looked like we had good possession, we gave away the ball too often in the middle third. 

“Honestly, I was very concerned with the way we played in the first half.  We have seen enough games last season when the opponents took one chance to score despite us having more of the possession.”

Sheau Shyan was especially concerned with her team’s lack of penetration and cohesion in the attacking third.

“Throughout the game, we were consistently getting into the attacking third on our right flank. But our conversion rate from crosses was zero. This has to be improved,” Sheau Shyan elaborated. “As mentioned before the game, our team’s preparations were disrupted for more than a month due to national team commitments, and we’ve always struggled to adjust back to our attacking style when the players return from their international duties.

“We must work on getting our groove back, to improve the players’ movement off the ball in the attacking third. It’s also important that we turn our possession into goals.”

Nonetheless, Sheau Shyan praised her players for their persistence in getting the winner, as she added: “The players have a strong belief that we will score even when we are goalless for long periods in a match. They keep going at it, and I’m very proud of them for that. I think this shows that we’ve grown as a team in terms of composure.”

The Sailors, who remain perfect this season with three wins in three games, will next take on Tanjong Pagar United this Saturday (27 May) evening.