Natalie Olson was the joint golden boot winner at last year’s NZSS Lotto Premier Tournament and her Wellington East Girls’ College side finished 28th of 32 teams.
The now-year 13 striker found the back of the net nine times in Taupo, the same number as Hannah Pilley from tournament-winning school Baradene College.
“I didn’t really know Hannah then, but at the end of last year we went off to the NZSS trip to the USA and we became good friends, so it will be really good to see her again at this year’s tournament,” said Natalie as she and WEGC prepare for next week in Christchurch”
This will be Natalie’s fifth straight appearance in Winter Tournament Week NZSS Nationals. “This year we have got three year 9s in our squad, three year 13s and a big group of year 11s. I think it will be really good for the girls to be exposed to the high level and good for their experience in future years.”
“Back in 2017 we won a satellite tournament in Wellington to get back into the top tier but after that final we lost half our squad so we have been rebuilding so hopefully we can improve on last year when we go to Christchurch next week.”
Striker Natalie is the co-captain with centre back Helena Newport.
They have just finished fourth in Wellington Premier 1 competition. “We both train and play once a week for our school team. We lost our semi-final to Wellington Girls’ College and then lost our playoff for third to Paraparaumu College. We lost both on penalties.”
In club football, she plays for Wellington United who recently became back-to-back champions of the Women’s W League.
“Our coach has been really good in supporting us and the hard work paid off with the girls so this was a great win for us.”
Natalie was one of several schoolgirls in Wellington United’s squad.
After school nationals, Natalie will be playing in the National League, which runs from mid-September to mid-December.
She has been selected in the Central squad, which means she will be travelling to practice and play her home games in Palmerston North.
“It will be a new environment and tough, I have always played against many of my new teammates at national age-grade tournaments, but it will be good for me.”
Natalie started playing football when she was eight. “A girl and myself at my school used to go down to the concrete wall and play one-touch and from there I joined a club team and I scored a goal in my first game and have been a striker ever since.”
Last November she joined the New Zealand Women’s U19 Football team at the Dallas International Girls Cup tournament in Texas, her first time representing New Zealand. “We managed to get through to the next round, but lost to Columbia in penalties.”
Football isn’t her only passion – she also both plays and coaches futsal.
In July Natalie was part of the Capital U19 team that came second to Canterbury at the National Youth Futsal Championships. “I managed to get the golden boot for that tournament as well, which was pretty exciting.”
She also coaches the Wellington East Junior A futsal team. Last year this team were national champions and Natalie was the Student Coach of the Year recipient at the College Sport Wellington awards. This year they were runners-up to Saint Kentigern College.
She used to do some running as well, but now leaves that to her good friend Kirstie Rae who is the NZSS Senior Girls cross country champion and this past Saturday won the Australian Secondary Schools Cross Country race.
As well as playing for Central in the upcoming National League, she also has the small matter of NCEA Level 3 exams in November, which includes scholarship P.E, so that will keep her busy.
The New Zealand Secondary Schools First XI football Premier tournament commences in Napier in a fortnight. More than 200 players will be on display. Here are eight of the best.
Thomas Drillen (Auckland Grammar School) - Drillen will be striving hard to ensure Auckland Grammar finishes higher than 11th, their disappointing placement last year. Combative and skillful, Drillen has been a key figure in driving AGS into the top four of the Auckland Premiership this year.
Raphael Le’ai (Scots College) - The Solomon Islands Under 17 representative broke the record for the most goals scored in the Trevor Rigby Cup Wellington competition this season; scoring 14 goals in 11 games, including a decisive strike in the final. The previous record was 13 set by Hutt Valley High School representative Aaron McDonald in 2013. Quick on his feet and deadly in front of goal, Le’ai promises to entertain.
Tyler Ericksen (Hamilton Boys' High School) - The robust defender is entering his second Nationals hoping to be as stubborn as the wall that won Hamilton top position in 2017. Technically adept and confident going forward, Ericksen will be tough to contain.
Joel Clissond (Sacred Heart College) - The dead-eye striker is among the leading scorers in the country this year. Clissond impressed for Eastern Suburbs in the National Youth League and brings experience and class to his third Nationals.
Oliver Colloty (Otago Boys’ High School) - Otago didn’t qualify for Nationals last year, but with Colloty’s all-round excellence they will have an impact in Napier; one of the best players in the South Island.
Kenny Willox (Havelock North High School) - Havelock North are a wildcard qualifier who shouldn’t be underestimated, especially given they have Willox. A regular in the Havelock North Wanderers, Willox will ensure Havelock make a nuance of all their opponents.
Aaron Scott (Rathkeale College) - Rathkeale was second in the Rex Dawkins second tier tournament in 2018 and are hoping to go a place higher at this year's Nationals. Scott is a key defender; strong on the ball and adept at avoiding carnage at corners.
The Lotto Boys Tournament is being played at Park Island, Napier over Winter Tournament Week from 2-6 September.
The 32 teams competing and the eight pools are below:
Pool A: Saint Kentigern College, St Paul's Collegiate, Selwyn College, Otago Boys’ High School
Pool B: Sacred Heart College, Hastings Boys’ High School, St Pat’s Town, Burnside High School
Pool C: Westlake Boys’ High School, Palmerston North Boys’ High School, Nelson College, Rotorua Boys’ High School
Pool D: Auckland Grammar School, Hamilton Boys’ High School, St Pat’s Silverstream, Napier Boys’ High School
Pool E: St Peter's College, Havelock North High School, Hutt International Boys’ School, Cashmere High School
Pool F: Rutherford College, St Peter's School, Rathkeale College, St Thomas’ of Canterbury College
Pool G: Mount Albert Grammar School, New Plymouth Boys’ High School, Scots College, Christ's College
Pool H: Kings College Tauranga Boys’ College, Waimea High School, King's High School.
Last 10 winners:
2018: Sacred Heart College, Auckland
2017: Hamilton Boys' High School
2016 Sacred Heart College, Auckland
2015 Nelson College
2014 Sacred Heart College, Auckland
2013 Saint Kentigern College
2012 Mount Albert Grammar School
2011 Sacred Heart College, Auckland
2010 Palmerston North Boys’ High School
2009 Mount Albert Grammar School
“It was surreal. I was so nervous beforehand, and didn’t feel anything during the game. I played alright, but I was kind of on autopilot,” Sam Wall reflected on his appearance for Napier City Rovers in the recent Chatham Cup quarter final against Albany United.
The 16-year old from Lindisfarne College played nearly the entire 120 minutes of an epic match that Napier should have won, but did their best to lose.
“I felt we were dominant, but couldn't score. They had a quick striker who caught us short twice. There were a lot of injuries and we scored in the 99th minute to send it to extra time,” Wall asserted.
Jack Beguely netted a double for Albany, but goals to Josh Stevenson and Sho Goto forced an additional period where “nothing” happened before penalties.
“We won the shootout 4-3. I was relieved that I didn’t have to take one. I went off with cramp. I had faith in the boys to do it. We deserve to be in the semi-finals,” Wall said.
Four-time champions Napier will host 2017 winners Onehunga Sports on August 25. The South Auckland outfit had an equally dramatic 5-4 overtime win over Wellington Olympic. Andrew Milne was the hero for Onehunga with two goals. Wall concedes he would have preferred to play Bay Olympic.
“Onehuga are a dangerous side, with a lot of attacking threats. At least we got a home tie.”
Wall will be kept busy in central defencee. In addition to helping Napier into second position in the Central League, he is the leading player in the Lindisfarne First XI who are third in the local schools league. Wall has benefited greatly from senior experience.
“It’s great playing for Napier because you are always been tested. We can’t win the league, which is disappointing, but going back to school with the experience of playing men helps me raise the level of my schoolmates.”
Lindisfarne rose their reputation internationally when they toured Dubai at the beginning of the season. After two years of planning, Lindisfarne won all four matches, outscoring opponents 23-2.
“Dubai was unreal. The facilities and culture were amazing, but the football was average. They weren’t very good.” Wall revealed.
In 2018, Wall was very good winning the Petersen Family Cup as the best young player in the Lindisfarne First XI.
Wall will be hoping to add the Chatham Cup to his trophy collection. The semi-finals are contested over the weekend of August 24-25 with the decider to be played on September 8.
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