“We lost about four or five key starters. We were sceptical about how things might pan out,” Alex Meaclem concedes when reflecting on the initial prospects for the Cashmere High School First XI Football season.
It appears that pessimism was misguided. Cashmere head into next Wednesday’s Mainland semi-finals as the second ranked qualifiers. They have won 11 out of 12 games and outscored their opposition 53 goals to 8 - while also holding the Connectics Shield for defeating top of the table, St Thomas of Canterbury College.
Cashmere showed glimpses of this promise in 2017, but were left to rue inconsistency.
“We were a strong team without being consistent. We beat St Andrew’s College and Burnside who were both top four schools, but then we’d go and lose to schools below us like Shirley Boys’ and St Bede’s,” Meaclem explains.
“This year were more hungry to produce a performance were proud of every week. There’s no room for complacency,” Meaclem continued.
Cashmere have dropped one match this season, edged 1-2 by Burnside High School. Cashmere put 10 goals past Riccarton High School and accounted for defending champions St Andrew's College 2-0.
However there most significant result was defeating St Thomas of Canterbury College 2-1 to capture the Connectics Shield.
“It was a bit of a surprise, most of the school was expecting St Thomas to win,” Meaclem concedes.
St Thomas was fourth in New Zealand last year and unbeaten prior to meeting Cashmere.
Meaclem captures the dramatic first-half.
“We started well and Axel Trick scored from a free kick. We were up 2-0 at halftime when our Year 11 Jake Grob scored a screamer. We won the ball deep in our half and advanced down field before cutting it back to Jake who curved it past their keeper from five yards outside the penalty box.”
The second half was much tougher.
“We defended the majority of the game, but when we got our chances we were really clinical. Things got a bit nervy when they pulled one back with 15 minutes to go, but I’m really proud of the fight the guys showed.”
Meaclem plays centre back and brings a mature approach to captaincy.
“I think the key to being a good leader is to get the balance right. You want to lead by example, but not play selfishly. I like talk and lift the guys as much as I can, but you can’t overdo it,” Meaclem observes.
Cashmere is being coached by Craig Squire, Tom Wilkinson and Grant Eden, the latter serves in a managerial role while the former devise tactics.
The Mainland semi-finals are next Wednesday night.
Cashmere hosts Burnside High School while St Thomas of Canterbury College tackles St Andrew’s College.
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