“I was really puffing when the final went to extra time. I wasn’t the fittest, but to score a penalty and win was pretty surreal,” Logan Wisnewski responds when asked to recall the National Secondary Schools First XI Football decider last year.
Hamilton Boys’ High School stunned reigning champions Sacred Heart College, Auckland, in a shootout. Wisnewski was an improbable hero. Several months early disaster had struck. Wisnewski broke his leg.
“It was May 18, the first competitive game of the season. We were leading 8-0 with ten minutes to go and I tried to win a 50/50 through ball and hopped away sore. I tried to play on, but it was really bad in the dressing room,” Wisnewski laments.
Consigned to a cast for 12 weeks, Wisnewski’s hopes of New Zealand Under-17 selection were dashed, but valuable character building occurred.
“The hardest thing being injured is watching the games. You can’t do anything to influence the results, but I tried to stay involved in other ways. I did some analysis and ran the water,” Wisnewski reflects.
Wisnewski didn’t start a single match at Nationals, but his contributions from the bench were pivotal in Hamilton’s success. His greater ability to observe has been acknowledged this season. Wisnewski has been appointed First XI skipper.
“I guess I have a lot of experience watching games. My brothers played in the First XI too so I guess I can relay convincingly what it means to play for Hamilton,” Wisnewski answers when addressing the question of what he brings to the leadership of the team.
Hamilton’s team is younger than the 2017 class, featuring only five returns. Wisnewski is adamant though Hamilton is in good shape.
“We’ve got Levi Clark and Harry Stocker back. Levi was our player of the year last year and Harry our top goal scorer,” Wisnewski explains.
“We’ve had a couple of camps and the boys are working hard and looking look,” he continued.
On Saturday May 5, Hamilton won the annual Referees Cup pre-season tournament held at St Peter's School, Cambridge (pictured right - photo credit HBHS website). The tournament involves eight different schools throughout the Waikato Region and Hamilton beat their second XI 4-0 in the final with Wisnewski scoring two goals. Hamilton’s seconds had upset the hosts in pool play.
The most significant pre-season result was a 0-0 draw with Sacred Heart College, the same score as the National final. Wisnewski warns Sacred Heart will be a strong team again.
In addition to football Wisnewski is accomplished on the Futsal court.
Discovering the sport at a holiday programme age of five, Wisnewski has represented New Zealand at an age group futsal level and guided the Hamilton senior team to a third placed finish at Nationals in Wellington in March.
It’s a busy season for the country’s leading female football players, with club and school commitments and the additional incentive to earn selection for the squads for the U20 World Cup (5-24 August) and the U17 World Cup (13 November – 1 December) all looming large.
Below are some of the players who should feature prominently throughout the remainder of 2018.
Hannah Blake (St Kentigern College) – The St Kentigern College Striker helped her school to an outstanding 2017 season winning the College Sport Auckland Championship, Knockout Cup and the NZSS title. The prolific striker will be on hand for some of her final College season as she also has to juggle her commitments with the New Zealand U-20 side heading to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in France and the Future Ferns Domestic Programme.
Macey Fraser & Gabrielle Rennie (Rangiora High School) – The duo are current members of the New Zealand U-17 Women’s squad that competed in the 2017 U-16 OFC Championships and are now working towards the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Uruguay later this year. Both are also members of the Future Ferns Domestic Programme Squad that plays in the AFF/NFF 17 Boys Conference League. Fraser is a skillful central midfielder and Rennie a speedy attacker.
Maya Hahn (Hutt Valley High School) – Receiving MVP at the 2017 U-16 OFC Championships speaks volumes of the talent Hahn possesses. The talented midfielder began her year with a bang as a guest player for Christchurch’s Waimakariri United who placed first in the U-17 National Club Championships. However, the midfielder is based in Wellington and a product of the Ole Football Academy and is almost certain to feature in Leon Birnies U-17 squad for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Tiana Hill (Otumoetai College)
She's not the biggest defender going around, but Hill's aggression and physicality makes up for her lack of size. Named MVP for Otumoetai at the NZSS Premier tournament in 2017 while helping her team to finish a respectiable 10th place, Hill will be keen to use her experience as a WaiBOP Football National Women's League player and Claudelands Rovers Women's Premier captain to help her school side in her final year of school.
Arabella Maynard & Talisha Green (Takapuna Grammar)
The attacking duo headlines the attack for both club and school. Both of the youngsters have pace to burn and a keen eye for goal. The Forrest Hill Milford Women's Premier players are sure to torment the defences they come up against in the Auckland Premier division.
Alisha Perry (Mt Albert Grammar School) The youngster has had tough shoes to follow in between the sticks at Mt Albert Grammar but some superb performances, including in the 2017 NZSS National Premier Final where she saved Football Fern Hannah Blake’s penalty, has seen her come into contention for a spot in the National U-17 side for the upcoming World Cup.
Hannah Pilley (Baradene College) –Pilley is an athletic forward who knows how to find the back of the net. Making her debut for Eastern Suburbs’ Women’s Premier side at just 15-years old, Pilley took her goal scoring exploits to the national stage scoring twice in the 2017 New Zealand Football Knockout Cup final. With the talent of Pilley and fellow youngsters Petra Buyck, Ruby Rimmer and Kate Duncan, Baradene will no doubt be challenging St Kentigern College for the Auckland Premier title again this year.
Rene Wasi (Westlake Girls) – The 2017 Westlake Girls Junior Player of the Year is one for the future. Wasi has a good chance of making her International debut at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup after strong performances in recent times for school, club (Forrest Hill Milford) and Northern Football earning her selection into the recent U-17 National team camp. The youngster claimed the Golden Boot award at last year’s NZSS National Premier Tournament.
Acknowledgments to: Steph Trowill
The start of the new term means the start of winter sport around the country, and with club and First XI football, leading up to the National tournament in early September, there is lots on in the round ball code.
Below are some players to watch this year.
Oscar Browne (St Peter’s College, Auckland) - A fast and skilful attacker who was named MVP at the National Under-17 Club Champs this year with Western Springs who he also represents at Men's Premier level. St Peter’s haven’t been a major contender in Auckland for some time, but a player of Browne’s quality will no doubt boost their prospects.
Shannon Lucas (Rongotai College) - Despite having a near career-ending injury two years ago the Rongotai keeper got back into his work and make a name for himself by winning the golden glove award at the most recent National Secondary Schools Futsal Tournament. Rongotai won the Players Trophy Final against St Pats Silverstream last year, but will be looking to step up to Premier I and in Lucas they have a rep standard keeper who could trigger surprise and success.
Tyler Mounty (St Bede’s College, Christchurch) - The defender and keen Softballer is set for a big year. Mounty was a standout for champions Mainland at the National Age Group Tournament in Wellington in early December. Mounty was named in the tournament team.
Rick Muir (Nelson College) - After winning the National title in 2015, Nelson finished a disappointing 12th in 2016. Nelson rebounded strongly in 2017 losing in the semi-finals to eventual champions Hamilton BHS before finishing third. Muir was a key part of that revival and will look to match the leadership of David Maisey last year. Nelson only conceded three goals at Nationals.
Lewis Reid (Tauranga BC) - Captain of Tauranga for the second year in a row, Reid is a classy performer with a wealth of senior experience and a sound all-round game. Tauranga have started the season strong having already beaten Francis Douglas College, New Plymouth BHS and King’s College comfortably.
Kingsley Sinclair & Leon Van Den Hoven (Sacred Heart College, Auckland) - The midfield pair are inseparable and enjoyed a busy and fruitful 2017. After both playing for the New Zealand U17’s in the World Cup in India they were selected for the Eastern Suburbs National League side. The Sacred Heart First XI won the Auckland Premier League title last year and lost the National decider on penalties with Sinclair and Van Den Hoven a dominant duo.
Thomas Wagner (Rathkeale College) - After finishing runners-up to St Pat’s Town in the Players Trophy in 2016, Rathkeale College made the jump to the top division in Wellington in 2017 and immediately made an impact when they knocked over Wellington College and held eventual champions St Pat’s Town to a draw. Rathkeale finished a respectable ninth at Nationals and Wagner was crucial in that effort finishing the tournament as the top scorer and later earning selection for the New Zealand Under 19’s who toured the US over the recent school holidays.
Logan Wisnewski (Hamilton BHS) - The captain of Hamilton plays as a defensive midfielder. Logan was on the cusp of the New Zealand Under-17’s last year, but missed out due to an unfortunate leg break that ruled him out of selection. Wisnewski was captain of the New Zealand Under-18 futsal team that finished second at the Oceania Champs. He plays his club football for Melville and is sure to ensure Hamilton fights hard to retain their National title. Harry Stocker, a third year striker and the team’s top goal-scorer last year also returns as vice-captain.
Acknowledgments: Hamish Wareham
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