Despite a brace from Sarah Uregei, New Caledonia were outdone by Stewart’s brilliance, after Samoa captain Monique Fischer had earlier given her side the lead.
Four years ago, at the 2018 edition of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup, New Caledonia won this fixture 2-0 and looked the more threatening early on, peppering the Samoa goal from long-range.
Samoa’s work was however looking more clinical and Fischer saw her near-post shot saved by Lorenza Hnamano.
New Caledonia’s tactic of pushing higher up the pitch was clearly paying off in attack, two snapshots from the edge of the box keeping Samoa goalkeeper Ronisa Lipi busy, but they were soon caught out defensively.
Stewart found her attacking partner Torijan Lyne-Lewis through on goal and when Hnamano failed to hold her powerful strike Samoa captain Fischer tapped home the rebound.
However, Michel Berbeche’s players showed in their previous fixture with the Solomon Islands that they are more than capable of a comeback and their response was swift.
Jennifer Neporo, the hero against the Solomons, delivered a cross into the box which goalkeeper Lipi could only palm into the path of Uregei, who obliged with the equaliser just shy of half-time.