The All Whites quest to secure a berth in the 2018 FIFA World Cup culminates in Lima on Thursday afternoon when they tackle Peru in the deciding leg of the intercontinental playoff. College Sport Media has covered some wonderful high school football in 2017. Maybe some of these names will feature in similar matches in the near future?
Matt Palmer (Sacred Heart College) - Palmer was the most prolific striker in New Zealand Secondary School football in 2017. He scored 22 goals in 14 Auckland league games alone as Sacred Heart defended the title for the fourth year in a row. Even more impressively Palmer was the leading goal scorer with 11 goals in eight matches at the International School Sport Federation's World Schools Championships in Prague. The event featured 36 teams, 24 countries and 640 players. Palmer competed for New Zealand at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India.
Keegan Smith - (Scots College) - When Keegan Smith was at Sacred Heart College in Auckland he couldn’t even crack the First XI. Moving south to the capital, Smith hooked up with the Phoenix academy and has made a huge impression starting for the Wellington Phoenix in the A-League as an 18-year-old. Smith is the second youngest player, and the youngest goalkeeper, in the franchise’s history. Additionally he plays for the Wellington United seniors in the Central League and the Phoenix reserves in the ASB Premiership.
Keegan Hansen (Hamilton BHS) - Hamilton Boys’ High School won the National title for the first time and goalkeeper Hansen kept a clean sheet in the semi-finals and the final. In the later fixture against defending champions Sacred Heart College, Hansen also converted the first penalty as Hamilton upset Auckland powerhouse Sacred Heart College. Hansen has been on the fringes of National age group selection and plays senior football for Melville United.
Hannah Blake (St Kentigern College) - The girls First XI at St Kent’s enjoyed an outstanding season winning the College Sport Auckland Championship, Knockout Cup and New Zealand Secondary Schools title in a penalty shootout thriller over defending champions Mount Albert Grammar School. Blake is a prolific striker whose deadly finishing tortured many opponents. Blake was selected for the New Zealand U20 team that won the OFC championship. Blake was the leading scorer at the tourney with eight goals, including the first final.
Grace Jale (Mount Albert Grammar School) - It’s been another top year for Grace Jale, a nomination for the Champion of Champions series in 2016. Though MAGS didn't defend their National title they returned to the final and lost narrowly to St Kentigern College. Jale was absent for much of the season on international duty. In July, Jale was a member of the New Zealand Under-20 team which won the Oceania Qualification Tournament in and will compete at the FIFA World Cup in France next year. Additionally Jale was named MVP of the National Secondary Schools Futsal tournament in Wellington which was won by her school.
Emma Main (St Oran's College) - Emma Main was named College Sport Wellington Footballer of the Year after a stellar season as a striker. Main was a member of the New Zealand Under-19 team who won the Oceania Championship in Auckland to qualify for the 2018 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup. Main was the leading goal scorer at the Oceania champs and bagged four alone in the final. Main plays well above her level in Wellington not only featuring in the St Oran's First XI, but also for the Upper Hutt seniors and the Capital team.
The Champion of Champion series is not intended to be a definitive list of the ‘best’ athletes in each code, rather it celebrates many of the leading athletes and teams in each that College Sport Media has followed this year. Preference has gone to those individuals/teams that CSM has interviewed and profiled in 2017. Got a story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand