St. Patrick’s College, Wellington, has won both the National Secondary Schools Junior and Senior boys Fustal Championships at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington this afternoon. College Sport Media and Boys Schools Sports watched both finals.
A star turn by Liberato Cacace inspired St. Pats Town to a resounding 5-0 victory against Napier Boys’ High School.
The New Zealand Under-17 representative scored all five goals, two in the first-half and three in the second, as Town romped home in front of a large and boisterous group of supporters.
The first five minutes was cagey with both sides rarely threatening goal. Town’s goalie was forced into a diving kick save from a fierce Napier shot. The rebound flew to Cacace on the left wing who burst forward and opened Town’s account with an angled drive.
Cacace doubled Town’s advantage from a Napier turnover and it was 2-0 at the interval.
Napier’s best period was after the break where repeated raids were made on the Town goal. Resolute defense prevented any scoreboard damage for the locals.
Cacace netted a third goal to effectively settle the contest. Napier sacrificed their keeper and employed a fifth man, but were still unable to breach Town’s defense.
Cacace should have scored a fourth when he stole the ball at halfway with no defenders ahead. He was too casual and got dispossessed by a retriever. Frustrated Cacace atoned when he blasted in a free kick from the left side. It was a good day to be a left footer.
St. Pats Town edged Hamilton Boys’ High School in a pulsating final. With 90 seconds remaining Town was reduced to four players when Liam Coleman was red carded following his second reckless tackle.
Hamilton peppered the Town goal and with 16 seconds left Franco Rojas-Miranda had the chance to send the game to penalties when he trapped the ball with his left foot in front of an open goal. He nudged the ball despairingly wide of the target trigging wild celebrations by Town and their legion of fans immersed in the gripping lunchtime entertainment.
The first-half was an even tussle and threatened to become a stalemate until Gianni Di Leva swivelled past his marker and opened the scoring for Town after ten minutes.
Di Leva and Nathan Simes had fierce shots blocked by Hamilton’s keeper while Jordon Caie was denied by the Town stopper.
Campbell Brown’s left foot is notoriously potent and he levelled the scores moments before halftime with a thumping drive.
Town dominated the beginning of the second spell. Simes tapped in within 60 seconds and Town went close to extending the lead further on three separate occasions.
Hamilton looked to their superior height to trouble Town, but was guilty of conceding possession without a single touch in midfield too often. The goal keeper was merely throwing it to his opposite. When Brown was given some ball to work with he employed his lethal left foot again and tied the scores at two each.
Town’s Jackson Manuel won a free kick and he to boasts a fearsome left foot. A thunderous shot over the Hamilton defensive wall made it 3-2 to Town.
This was an excellent showcase for a sport growing at rapid speed.
“I didn’t play too well against the Solomon Islands nor did the rest of the team,” Oliver Whyte concedes after New Zealand’s second game of the OFC Under 17 Football Championships in Tahiti.
An 84th minute goal by Charles Spragg gave New Zealand a 2-1 win, but it was an unconvincing display.
“That was the hottest game we played. It was 31 degrees, but that’s no excuse. We had a long, hard look at ourselves after that one and changed a few things,” Whyte admits.
New Zealand crushed Fiji 5-0 in their last group game to temporarily appease the demands of their coaching staff, but the problems that plagued the Kiwis against the Solomon Islands returned in the semi-final against Papua New Guinea.
“They were quite a good side. They had good dribbling skills and a few individuals who could keep the ball for a long time, but we didn’t play well for long periods. We went away from what we were supposed to do,” Whyte complains.
Approaching extra time the scores were tied at a goal apiece when Max Mata stripped the ball from a Papua New Guinea attacker, Whyte describes what happened next.
“Max got the ball at halfway and dribbled up the field. I followed in support and headed towards the penalty box. Max took the ball to the byline and crossed. I managed to reach the ball first and get a little toe poke on it. The ball went into the bottom of the net.”
New Zealand won 2-1 and by virtue of reaching the final guaranteed their place at the World Cup in India in October.
“I felt pretty good to score the goal. I think the boys were thinking too much about making the World Cup in some of the early games. When we achieved that goal it was a huge relief and allowed us to play with more freedom in the final,” Whyte says.
New Zealand crushed New Caledonia 7-0 in the decider, a performance Whyte praised as “professional.”
New Zealand will have a series of camps before the World Cup. In the meantime Whyte will play senior football and concludes his season for the Wellington Phoenix Under-20’s in the Stirling Sports Premiership next week.
Whyte attends Scots College.
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