Two years ago at the FIFA Under-17 World Championships in Chile, Sacred Heart College student Lucas Imrie scored a last play goal against Paraguay to propel New Zealand into the round of 16 for the first time.
On October 6 in Mumbai, New Zealand kicks off the 2017 edition of the tournament against Turkey and another Sacred Heart lad is hoping to have a big impact in front of goal.
Matt Palmer scored 22 goals in the Auckland Premier League this year as Sacred Heart retained the title for the fourth consecutive season. What does Palmer expect from the Kiwis opposition in India?
“We’ve seen a fair bit of what our opposition can do and how they play. We expect them to be fast paced teams who play with good intent and speed. We feel Mali will be the hardest team to beat as they were second at the last World Cup,” Palmer reveals.
Paraguay will be intent on revenge when they meet New Zealand in the second group game. Can the South American giants be toppled again?
“We hope to make it out of our group and progress to the knockout stages. We have a talented team who have worked hard to get here. We will be competitive.”
Four years ago Palmer changed his position seeking greater competition himself.
“I started playing striker a few years ago. Previously I played fullback and moved up the pitch to be a winger. I started playing First XI football at the start of Year 12 and that has really benefitted my footballing ability. My coach Danny Hay has pushed me and given me multiple opportunities. He is the reason I made this team.”
Sacred Heart had to really push themselves to win the Premier League. They beat Saint Kentigern College 4-2 with two goals in the last six minutes to draw level on points with the competition leaders with two fixtures remaining. Still well behind on goal difference, Sacred Heart scored 19 goals in the last two games to pass the Pakuranga private school in a thrilling race.
“We knew St Kent's were going to be strong with their attack. This is because they have a strong partnership of Charles Spragg and Max Mata up front. We knew it would be a hard challenge to catch up to their goal tally, but we didn't lose faith and backed ourselves to get the goals we needed. It was a lot of fun having a greater licence to attack all out,” Palmer reflects.
Palmer responds quickly when asked what his favourite goal was.
“I'd have to say my favourite goal was in the last game of the season against Auckland Grammar which won us the league. It meant the most to me as it took us one step closer to winning the league title.”
FIFA Under-17 World Cup tidbits
New Zealand is competing for the eighth time. Their previous wins at the event are against Poland (2-1) in 1999, Uzbekistan (4-1) in 2011 and Paraguay (2-1) in 2015.
Nigeria are the defending champions and the most frequent winners of the event with five titles since 1985. Brazil have played the most matches with 75 and have enjoyed the greatest number of wins 47, scoring a record 166 goals.
An estimated global TV viewership of 200 million is expected in this edition. SONY TEN 2 and SONY TEN 3 are the official broadcasters and they will share its feed in over 185 countries.
14-year-old Freddy Adu scored a hat-trick in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2013 and followed it up with a hat-trick in FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007 to become the first footballer to achieve a hat-trick at the World Cups of both age levels.
Brazil’s Ronaldinho is the only player to have won both FIFA U-17 (1997) and FIFA World Cup Finals (2002) title.
Famous Names From the Past: https://www.sportskeeda.com/football/fifa-u-17-world-cup-golden-ball-winners-top-5
The 21-player New Zealand U17 football squad has been named for the upcoming FIFA U17 World Cup.
The squad is:
Leon Van Den Hoven
Head coach Danny Hay has been happy with his team’s build-up for the tournament which has included a short training camp for fitness and conditioning testing in Auckland and a warm-up match against Auckland City FC which they won 4-1.
New Zealand will open their tournament against Turkey on 6 October before they meet South American powerhouse Paraguay (both in Mumbai) and then complete Group B against African champions Mali (New Delhi) in the tournament which will be contested from 6 and 28 October in six venues across India.
“We know that Mali, like most African nations, will be very strong in the U-17 and U-20 national teams,” said Hay.”We think they have a chance of winning the title so it will be great going up against one of the favourites. Paraguay lost only one game from 12 in qualifying for this event and Turkey were also very impressive in their qualifying only losing to England and Spain, the two top teams. It is going to be difficult but we are all really looking forward to the challenge.”
Hay is pleased with the fitness levels in this NZ U-17 squad and their attacking intent which they displayed on Tuesday night against National League opposition in the Navy Blues.
Three of the standout performers of the OFC U-17 Championship in Tahiti were Charles Spragg (Golden Boot), Zac Jones (Golden Glove) and exciting midfielder Elijah Just.
“Charles has really developed in recent time and had a fine qualifying tournament,” said Hay. “He will be in good competition for a starting place as we have good depth in our forwards with the likes of Max Mata and Matt Conroy. As a former central defender, Charles is the sort of player I used to hate marking. He has great work ethic and het goes all day and that is exactly what we want from him.
“Eli is an exciting young kid who has spent some time training with the All Whites squad recently. He is a product of Declan Edge’s Ole Football Academy and he has done a good job with him. He has a big future.
The New Zealand U-17s will look to replicate the feats of the NZ team at the tournament two years ago in Chile where they defeated Parauguay 2-1 in their final game to make the Round of 16. They lost in the playoff stages to Brazil (1-0) but showed huge promise on the world stage.
FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 Draw
Group A: India, USA, Colombia, Ghana
Group B: Paraguay, Mali, New Zealand, Turkey
Group C: Iran, Guinea, Germany, Costa Rica
Group D: Korea DPR, Niger, Brazil, Spain
Group E: Honduras, Japan, New Caledonia, France
Group F: Iraq, Mexico, Chile, England
New Zealand’s Group B games at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India
Friday 6 October, kick off 5:30pm local time (Saturday 7 October 1am NZT)
Dr DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai
Monday 9 October, kick off 8pm local time (Tuesday 10 October 3:30am NZT)
Dr DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai
Thursday 12 October, kick off 5pm local time (Friday 13 October 12:30am NZT)
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi
“I always take the first penalty. It’s been like that in every team I have played for. I love a shootout because as a goalkeeper it’s my chance to stake a claim for fame,” Keegan Hansen responds when asked if he actually enjoys penalty shootouts.
The bane of most footballers’ existence, think of David Beckham’s spectacular failures, Hansen on recent evidence appears to be speaking the truth.
At the Lotto Premier Boys National Secondary Schools Football tournament in Napier last week, Hansen was a hero in two penalty shootouts for surprise first time champions, Hamilton Boys’ High School.
Hamilton eliminated 2016 National runners up Saint Kentigern College in the quarterfinals and then denied Sacred Heart College repeat success in the decider – a far-fetched possibility at the start of 2017.
“At the start of the season we sat in a classroom and agreed on some goals for the season. We strived to make the top four at Nationals. We thought that would be really good, but for a while even that seemed really ambitious,” Hansen reveals of Hamilton’s initial targets.
In July, Hamilton stormed into the final of the perennially strong Super 8 competition, but was upstaged by Napier Boys’ High School in a penalty shootout, despite Hansen scoring with his first and only shot.
“We didn’t do anything about penalties before that game. We just rocked up and paid for it. After that loss we spent time after every training practicing penalties and resolved an order of shooters,” Hansen admits.
Despite defeat the Super 8 proved to be a real eureka moment.
“We really dominated that tournament and it was a letdown not to win it. We gained a lot of confidence from the way we played.”
At Nationals, Hamilton topped Pool H and then thumped Wellington College 5-0 in the Round of 16 to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Saint Kentigern College who had won all four games and scored 15 goals.
“It was 2-2 at full time which we felt was a bit harsh on us. We had played really well and deserved better. We had made most of the play, but they had caught us on the break a couple of times.” Hansen recalls of regulation time.
In the penalty shootout Hansen scored first and captures what happened next.
“Our second shooter missed which put the pressure on us. They got ahead 3-2 and then their shooter skied one. We got ahead 4-3 and then I managed to save one and we got through.”
Semi-final opponent and 2015 National champions, Nelson College hadn’t conceded a goal prior to meeting Hamilton, but were convincingly dispatched 2-0.
There would be nothing simple about foiling Auckland champions, Sacred Heart College. Hansen describes the tactical dilemma Hamilton faced.
“They are a strong outfit who score a lot of goals, but we resolved we were going to go down fighting. We knew we had to be a bit more defensive, but we didn’t want to park the bus either.”
The mix of attack and caution served Hamilton well. After regulation and extra time both teams had failed to score.
“I took the first penalty. I knew they would have watched our quarterfinal so instead of going for the bottom left corner which I normally do, I decided to blast it down the middle and was lucky to score,” Hansen recounts of the shootouts beginning.
Every shooter was on target until the score was 5-4 to Hamilton. Hansen was soon to have his biggest claim to fame.
“I managed to save the fifth shot. The shooter went to his left or my right and landed the ball in a good area for me. I managed to get down and palm it away.”
Luke Woolerton who started off the bench due to an ankle injury scored the last penalty for Hamilton.
In addition to his Boys’ High duties, Hansen plays for Melville United and has been involved with the New Zealand Under-17 program.
Hamilton Boys’ is the first school from the Waikato region to win the National title. They had been runners up previously.
Are there any secrets to being a good shot blocker?
“Not really. I just do the traditional jump up and hit the crossbar and think about where the striker might shoot. Occasionally I might have a word or two. They are just a nervous as I am,” Hansen concluded.
The prospects of the Sacred Heart College First XI football team winning the Auckland Premier League for the fourth consecutive year were bleak less than a fortnight ago.
Sacred Heart trailed Saint Kentigern College on both goal difference and points. In fact Sacred Heart had to beat St Kent’s on August 18 to have any chance of retaining their title and hope if St Kent’s didn’t lose their remaining two fixtures, they were unable to score as prolifically as the Catholics.
The enormity of Sacred Heart’s challenge was further compounded when captain Robert Dymond fell ill before the meeting against the competition leaders.
“I was sick for a whole week leading up to the St Kents game and was unable to train. I was put on the bench and was uncertain if I would play,” Dymond moans.
At halftime the game was tied 2-2, a score that lasted until the 84th minute. Dymond recalls what happened next.
“We won a penalty and I scored to make it 3-2. St. Kent’s threw numbers forward attempting an equaliser, but we caught them on the break and scored again to win 4-2.”
What did Sacred Heart learn from their first fixture against St Kents which they lost 0-1?
“We started real slow and fell behind early never reaching our best. We changed our formation this time and that made a difference. The other thing that helped was the crowd at Bill McKinlay park. If you can’t get fired up by the support there, you never will.”
St. Kent’s won their last match of the league against Westlake Boys’ High School 3-0 to finish with a 13-1 record and a goal differential of +61.
Sacred Heart required two big wins against Mount Roskill Grammar School and Auckland Grammar School to usurp St Kent’s. The Mount Roskill match boarded on a farce.
“We won 15-0, but it was only 7-0 with 20 minutes to go. We have struggled to score at times this year, but the boys really had their boots on that day. Our centre back Tom McCloy scored five goals,” Dymond marvelled.
The size of the Mount Roskill win meant Sacred Heart enjoyed a superior goal difference to St Kents and only required victory against Auckland Grammar School to wrap up the league crown.
“We won 4-0. It was a really clinical performance. It’s been a pretty crazy couple of weeks.” Dymond enthused.
In 14 games Sacred Heart outscored all opponents 87-7. Together with St Kent’s, Sacred Heart finished 19 points ahead of Auckland Grammar who were third.
On September 16 both schools will clash in the local knockout cup final, but next week attention turns to Nationals where Sacred Heart edged St Kent’s on penalties in last year’s final. Are Nationals a two-horse race again?
“It would seem like that, but we're not taking anything for granted. In a tournament environment anything can happen,” Dymond warns.
Sacred Heart will be without their New Zealand under-17 representatives Leon Van Den Hoven, Matthew Palmer and Kingsley Sinclair in Napier next week. National coach Danny Hay, ironically Sacred Heart’s mentor, has withdrawn all members of the squad selected to compete at the under-17 FIFA World Cup in India in October. The loss of Palmer who bagged 23 league goals will be keenly felt.
“It’s a blow not to have those guys, but we have lots of depth in our squad and are not the only ones to suffer. St Kent’s have three players out as well,” Dymond observes.
Dymond is originally from England and plans to return to his native pasture in 2018 to trial with Birmingham City FC. Robert’s family migrated to New Zealand when he was 10 years old.
“I love New Zealand. It was absolutely the right decision to come here. I have made a lot of friends and the football has been great,” he concluded.
Click Here for a full Nationals draw
Football or Futsal? It was a question 17-year old Jenna Dodd had to ask herself not so long ago.
The Pukekohe High School student player was selected for the New Zealand Secondary School Girls Football under 18 representative team back in June, and was preparing to travel to Singapore at the end of September.
That was until New Zealand U-18 Women’s Futsal team coach Ronan Naicker threw a spanner in the works and selected Dodd for his ten strong squad for the OFC Youth Futsal Championships.
The problem? The two events clash.
“I was disappointed that the Secondary Schools tour and the U-18 Futsal Champs clash,” Dodd said.
“I would have loved to participate in both, but unfortunately that was not possible so I had to choose one or the other.”
After much discussion with those closest to her, Dodd finally came to a decision, and will be representing her country on the court in a bid to qualify for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
“I chose to go with Futsal because I saw more of a pathway for me.
“I knew I was going to have the time of my life with either option, but I personally saw more opportunities with Futsal.
“It was a hard decision, but one I am happy with,” Dodd added.
Dodd is no stranger to the five-aside game despite only starting late last year. She has already played at the highest level the country has to offer domestically, representing AFF Futsal in the National Women’s Futsal League.
“I haven’t played Futsal for very long and I know I have a lot to learn, but having past experience from the National League and National Age Group tournament will give me the confidence to play against a wide range of opposition.
“I was very fortunate to play in the National League with many experienced players, all of whom had lots of advice and support.
“The New Zealand U-18 team consists of a few younger players and I hope I can take my past Futsal experiences and use these within the team.”
Dodd’s campaign with the New Zealand U-18’s begins on September 23 with a two day training camp in Wellington.
“I am looking forward to the two training camps coming up based all over New Zealand where we will meet the entire team and start making new friends.
“I am very much looking forward to working with the best U-18 Futsal players New Zealand has and I am honoured to be a part of the team.”
The final camp will take place in Auckland before the OFC Youth Futsal Championships kick off in Auckland on October 4.
By Steph Trowill, Auckland Football Federation
Article source at: http://www.aff.org.nz/dodd-follows-her-heart/
A youthful Baradene College First XI football team has just completed a fruitful Auckland APC Premier Division 1 girls football season.
On Wednesday night Baradene lost 0-3 to top qualifier and unbeaten St Kentigern College in the final after beating perennial contenders Mount Albert Grammar School in their semi-final the previous week.
Team captain Abby Murphy, one of just two year 13 players in the team, said the Baradene First XI has gelled well in the just completed 12-team Auckland league.
“We were happy with how we played in the final, we couldn’t have done much more, and they are a hard team to beat with some good star players like Hannah Blake [NZ U20s] up front,” said Abby.
“We have never got close to beating MAGS before either, so I think last year we lost to them by a ridiculous amount, I think it was 16-0. We didn’t even think about the final, just to beat MAGS in the semi-final was an amazing achievement for the girls.”
Baradene’s 1-0 semi-final win over MAGS was decided on a second half penalty with Hannah Pilley the goal scorer.
“Once we got our lead, MAGS kept applying a lot of pressure and it was very close towards the end and went right down to the final whistle.”
MAGS, who went on to lose 2-4 to Rangitoto in their playoff for third and fourth on Wednesday, have recently been understrength with several players in New Zealand representative teams, but they are neverthless the benchmark girls football school in the Auckland league and in New Zealand.
Coming up in two weeks is the Lotto Premier Girls National Football Championships in Taupo, with Baradene competing with 32 of the best school teams in the country. Last year they finished ninth behind winners MAGS. “We would love to make the top eight this year and see how we go from there.”
Abby started in Baradene’s First XI in 2014 in Year 10 and has been part of the team’s growth.
“Considering in 2014 we were in the second division final, and to make the top division final three years later is good for us,” said Abbey who plays attacking midfield for her school side that is coached by Tom Speers.
“We have a young team, I only have two other Year 13s with me who have been there since Year 10. We have got a lot of Year 10s and 11s who will be there for a few more years. There is also a second XI and several junior teams doing well.”
The Baradene First XI finished second at the end of the round-robin behind St Kent’s, with seven wins, two draws and two losses. Last year they won four and lost seven. What were other highlights of the league season?
“Even to tie with MAGS at the start of the season was a highlight, that motivated all of us and that’s when we knew we had a good shot.”
“We lost 2-0 to St Kent’s in our round-robin league game but we had a lot more possession and opportunities in that game, so definitely those two earlier games, against the defending champions and the eventual champions, were memorable games for us this year."
Many of the Baradene footballers are also playing club football on the weekends as well.
Baradene are also a leading futsal school, winning the Auckland Secondary Schools Futsal Tournament earlier this year. By Abby’s admission they didn’t do so well in the Futsal Nationals in Wellington (won by MAGS) but she and several other players are leading futsal players as well.
Abby herself has just been selected in the inaugural New Zealand U18 Futsal squad, along with Baradene’s Ella O’Connell-Biddlecombe who just plays the indoor code.
Other Baradene football First XI players that also play in the school’s Senior A futsal team include, Olivia Gordon, Katie Harris, Holly Marx, Ella Neal and Hannah Pilley.
Petra Buyck, Olivia Ongley, Ruby Rimmer and Kate Duncan are U15 futsal players, while several squad members also play other sports such as touch and tennis and orienteering – Baradene were recently crowned national orienteering champions.
The Baradene College First XI football squad is:
1. Petra Buyck
2. Isabelle Coman
3. Jessica Day
4. Olivia Gordon
5. Katie Harris
6. Ciara Homan
7. Holly Marx
8. Abby Murphy
9. Ella Neal
10. Olivia Ongley
11. Josie Penfold
12. Hannah Pilley
13. Ruby Rimmer
14. Alexandra Saunders
15. Margaret Wood
16. Kate Duncan
NZSS GIRLS FOOTBALL: Lotto Premier Girls teams and pools:
Pool A Mt Albert Massey St Mary's (Wgtn) Napier Girls
Pool B St Peter's (Cam) Sacred Heart Girls (NP) Macleans, St Cuthbert's
Pool C Saint Kentigern Epsom Girls Hutt Valley Trident
Pool D Hamilton Girls Takapuna Wellington Girl's St Andrew's
Pool E Rangitoto Whangarei Girls Hillcrest Otago Girls
Pool F NP Girls Burnside Tauranga Girls Westlake Girls
Pool G Nelson Girls Rangiora Otumoetai St Mary's(Auck)
Pool H P/North Girls Baradene Waimea, Diocesan (Auck)
“It felt good when I hit it. I thought surely that’s going in,” Manyumow Achol, universally known as Manny, reflects when discussing his spectacular goal in last night’s Premier Youth football final for St. Pats Town against Hutt International Boys’ School (HIBS).
Town beat HIBS 2-1 at Petone’s Memorial Park to capture the Trevor Rigby Cup for just the third time and for the first time since 2004 when the First XI featured a 14 year-old Kosta Barbarouses who became an All White.
Manny’s strike early in the second-half was a telling blow in ending HIBS’ two-year reign as champions. A change of tactics at halftime was vital in creating the chance.
“The guy was marking me in the middle of the park and was hard to get past. I wasn’t getting a lot of space to dribble so I was moved out to the left wing to try and find more space and it worked,” Manny explained.
About ten minutes into the second-half, Manny received the ball from captain Sam Wright on the left wing about ten-metres shy on the box.
“I was in a one on one and beat my marker which opened up space for a shot. I had a crack and knew I had hit it well. It was an awesome feeling when it went in,” Manny recalls.
There would soon be double delight for Town when Liberato Cacace scored to make it 2-0.
“We got our confidence after a goal and I moved back into the middle of the park. We started to find more space and when Liberato scored the boys were doing real well,” Manny acclaims.
HIBS wouldn’t yield their crown easily and pulled a goal back to create an anxious finish.
“I was nervous, but I had faith in the boys we would hang on. We have worked hard all season for this,” Manny said.
Manny has faced plenty of turmoil in his life. He fled war-torn Sudan with his grandma and arrived in New Zealand aged six as a refugee, leaving behind his parents and three sisters.
“I don’t have much memory of leaving Sudan, it's very sad. I haven’t had contact with my family for a long time.”
In 2016, Manny was enrolled at Hutt Valley High School, but that environment wasn’t the most fruitful.
“St Pat’s is a smaller school which means I get more help with my study. I feel the boys and teachers look out for you more here.” Manny justified of his switch of school.
The move has paid off. Manny aligned previously with the Olympic club and Lower Hutt Under-17’s has flourished in the Kaizan academy. In 2018 he is headed to the US on scholarship, most likely with Marshall University in West Virginia.
“I would like to especially thank Carlos Junca, Stu Jacobs and James Prosser for their support. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them,” Manny concluded.
A ground-breaking period for futsal in this country has continued with the naming of both male and female U18 national teams this week.
The inaugural national male and female U18 futsal 10-person squads have been selected.
Each squad includes ten of New Zealand’s most promising young futsal players and both will compete in the upcoming OFC Youth Futsal Championship, set to take place at Bruce Pulman Park in Auckland from October 4 to 7 – with berths at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina on offer.
It is the first time either side will be competing against other nations, the players are very much going into the unknown but there is some international experience in the female group, albeit in football rather than the small-sided game.
Goalkeeper Rylee Godbold, Macey Fraser and Grace Wisnewski were all members of the New Zealand squad that recently qualified for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup while Jenna Dodd has also represented her country at secondary school level.
New Zealand U18 Women’s Futsal National Team
Rylee Godbold (WaiBOP Futsal)
Ella O’Connell-Biddlecombe (Auckland Football Federation Futsal)
Abigail Murphy (Auckland Football Federation Futsal)
Jenna Dodd (Auckland Football Federation Futsal)
Macey Fraser (Canterbury United Pride Futsal)
Emily Gillion (Auckland Football Federation Futsal)
Grace Wisnewski (WaiBOP Futsal)
Lily Fisher (Canterbury United Pride Futsal)
Tilly James (Central Futsal – Manawatu)
Hannah Reddy (Northern Football Federation Futsal)
Head Coach: Ronan Naicker
Assistant Coach: Tania Neill
Team Manager: Lauren Harkerss
New Zealand U18 Men’s Futsal National Team
Patrick Steele (WaiBOP Futsal)
Chris Preece (Auckland Football Federation Futsal)
Ethan Martin (Central Futsal – Hawke’s Bay)
Logan Wisnewski (WaiBOP Futsal)
Adam Paulsen (Auckland Football Federation Futsal)
Michael Plim (Capital Futsal)
Aidan Robson (Central Futsal – Hawke’s Bay)
Oban Hawkins (Northern Football Federation Futsal)
Sam Wright (Capital Futsal)
Arzan Todywalla (Auckland Football Federation Futsal)
Head Coach: Marvin Eakins
Assistant Coach: Bakr Al-Saudi
Team Manager: Todd Bryant
New Zealand have qualified for the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup after winning the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Samoa.
The New Zealand U-16 side defeated New Caledonia 6-0 in Friday night's final, to maintain a perfect record of featuring in each edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup since hosting the first event back in 2008.
The defending champions lived up to their pre-tournament favouritism throughout the championship with comfortable wins in pool play and in their semi-final against the Cook Islands (winning 9-0), but the final proved a much closer contest with New Zealand 1-0 up at the break thanks to a Arabella Maynard goal in the 28th minute.
Maynard went onto to have a final to remember when she found the back of the net a further three times after half-time. An own goal and a strike from substitute Grace Wisnewski secured the win.
New Zealand U-16 coach Leon Birnie said it was a satisfying result for his team who dominated throughout, but were made to work hard in the final.
“I am really pleased for the girls,” said Birnie. “We have a World Cup to look forward to now and that was the aim when we came here.”
Birnie paid credit to Matthieu Delcroix’s side who were competing in their first final and made life difficult in the hot and humid conditions.
“It was a challenge out there today especially in the first half. New Caledonia played really well. We needed to take our chances in the first five minutes but we didn’t. They made it really hard for us as we were lucky to not concede and be at 1-1. We were much more direct in the second half and we got a bit of joy from that which was good to see.”
Maynard opened the scoring midway through the first half when she followed up a shot at the back post to find the back of the net.
She was then on hand to put away a Kelli Brown strike in the 52nd minute before New Zealand continued to apply pressure to New Caledonia and Melissa Iekawe put the ball into her own net for an own goal. Maynard then completed her hat-trick four minutes later when she went one on one with the keeper. She completed her fine afternoon when she tucked home her fourth in the 68th minute and New Zealand had one hand on the trophy.
Grace Wisnewski came off the bench and finished the scoring when she smashed home a shot from close range in the 72nd minute.
It completed a fine tournament for New Zealand where Brown (14) claimed the Golden Boot for the leading scorer in the championship ahead of compatriots Maggie Jenkins (9), Maynard (7) and Wisnewski (6).
Birnie said the win has laid a good foundation for the team to build on for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Uruguay.
“If I look back at our first game, where we had plenty to work on, to where we are now then we have seen big improvement. We have 12 – 13 months now and we have to keep moving forward and improving and if we do that we will be in a good space come World Cup time.”
OFC Women’s U-16 Championship Final
New Zealand 6 (Arabella Maynard 28’, 52’, 66’, 68’, own goal 62’, Grace Wisnewski 72’)
New Caledonia 0
New Zealand: 13. Rylee Godbold (GK), 3. Aneka Mittendorff (c), 4. Hannah Mackay-Wright, 7. Kelli Brown (6. Grace Wisnewski 57’), 8. Maya Hahn, 10. Maggie Jenkins (16. Jayda Stewart 67’), 11. Arabella Maynard, 12. Macey Fraser (9. Margot Ramsay 57’), 14. Mackenzie Barry, 15. Gabrielle Rennie, 17. Aniela Jensen
Substitutes not used: 1. Georgia Candy (GK), 2. Shannon Trebes, 5. Amy Waters, 18. Britney Cunningham-Lee
Coach: Leon Birnie
“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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