“My game ended in the back of an ambulance. I broke my leg after 10 minutes and later discovered we lost 1-0,” Sam Wright mourns when reflecting on his last appearance in a college football final.
It was 2015 and Wright’s St. Patrick’s College Town was beaten by St. Patrick’s College, Silverstream.
Wright spent six months recovering, but admits he didn’t regain full confidence until at least a year after the heavy collision which caused the shocking break.
“Recovery was really tough. I missed a lot of tournaments and when I did come back I lacked fitness. It took me ages to regain my fitness,” Wright reveals.
Town suffered without Wright regularly in the roster. In 2016, Town was Division II champions which prompted some changes in the off-season. Town is now aligned to the Kaizen Academy run by former All White Stu Jacobs.
“Kaizen has been really good for us. It’s provided some extra fitness and tactical advice which has served as well this year,” Wright endorses.
Last Saturday, St. Pats Town beat Wellington College 4-2 to confirm their place in the final of the Premiership Trevor Rigby Cup Final. Town fell behind 2-0, but rallied to win following two goals by Wright.
“I don’t know what happened in the first half. We lacked energy and didn’t get into the game. My first goal was scored when I hit the ball on the edge off the box after beating a few defenders. My second goal was scored from a counter attack when Wellington lost the ball.
“I’m really enjoying the emphasis on fast passing and speed. We play a fun style of football,” he continued.
Town’s exuberant approach has yielded great profit. They have won 18 out of 21 games with draws against Rathkeale College, 2-2 and Tawa College, 3-3. Town’s only setback this season is against defending champions Hutt International Boys’ School (HIBS), a likely final opponent.
“HIBS are a tough side to breakdown. They play five at the back and go hard into the challenge. We will have to be patient and accurate to beat them,” Wright theorises.
Town has beaten HIBS in 2017. A Manyumow Achol goal resulted in a 1-0 victory earlier in the season. The Sudanese refugee acquired from Hutt Valley High School has been a valuable addition.
“Manny has been huge for us this season. He is scoring goals we wouldn’t have scored last year and bring a real positive attitude,” Wright acclaims.
Paul Muollo is another figure of distinction. After nearly 500 senior matches for Island Bay, Muollo is now First XI coach.
“We’ve had Paul for two years now and he has built confidence in the players,” Wrights praises.
New Zealand Under-17 selection Liberato Cacace hasn’t been available often this season. However if he plays the last round robin fixture against Scots College on Saturday he would have made four appearances which qualifies him for the final.
Cacace scored all five goals for Town in their National Futsal title win in April. Wright has been part of two national success in that code and is a strong contender for selection for the New Zealand Under-18’s who are seeking qualification for the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
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