Sacred Heart College have won the Auckland First XI football premier league for the third consecutive year with two rounds remaining.
Sacred Heart have never been through an entire season undefeated, but if they draw or win their next two fixtures against Mount Roskill Grammar School and Auckland Grammar School in the next fortnight they will achieve an historic first.
In 2015 Sacred Heart were National runners up. A big reason for their success was the prolific goal scoring of New Zealand U17 rep Lucas Imrie. Imrie netted 20 goals in all competitions, but was hungry for more this year.
“I am an attacking player so the more often I put the ball in the back of the net the better it is for my team. I wanted to score more goals this year being a senior player,” Imrie says.
Imrie has already scored 20 goals in 2016, including 18 goals in 12 Premier League games. He bagged the winner in the 1-0 victory over Westlake BHS last weekend which sealed Sacred Heart the title. In the previous match between the two schools’ he scored four goals in a 5-1 victory.
Choosing his favourite goal this season is a tough task, but a relatively easy finish against St. Kentigern College was particularly sweet.
“St. Kent’s are a tough side. They held us to a 2-2 draw in our first game and will be a big threat at Nationals because they have so many good players. The second time we played them we beat them 2-0 and that was really satisfying. It was a real team performance and the goal I finished was from nice work,” Imrie recalls.
Imrie also scored in the 3-2 win against Mount Albert Grammar School, a match in which Sacred Heart had to rally from two down to win.
Mount Roskill in third and Auckland Grammar in fourth separate Sacred Heart from an unbeaten season. Any thoughts of easing up with the league already in the bag are unlikely Imrie warns.
“Both matches will be tough. Mount Roskill have a lot of Year 13 players and were really tough to beat last time. We won 2-0, but it was a real tough and scrappy game. The atmosphere was amazing. We beat Auckland Grammar 3-1, but that to was close. It took us about 70 minutes to finally break them.”
There are about seven returning players from the Sacred Heart team who lost the National final to Nelson College last year. Imrie believes the desire to reverse that result has been the driving force behind such imperious form in 2016.
“It’s been amazing so far. Everybody has really stepped up. I might have scored a lot of goals, but it’s been a great all-round effort. People are putting me in great positions,” Imrie enthuses.
Imrie plays his senior football for Western Springs. He is hoping to make the New Zealand U20 team for the Oceania Championships in Vanuatu in September . The winner of that event advances to the FIFA U20 World Cup.
At last year’s FIFA U17 World Cup, Imrie scored a memorable winner against Uruguay to help New Zealand reach the second round for the first time.
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