“We have a big rivalry with St Kent’s. We never want to lose to St Kent’s. When we lost the league to them we resolved the only way to get them back was to win Nationals,” Kingsley Sinclair from the Sacred Heart College First XI football team says.
Despite surrendering the Auckland Premiership for the first time in four seasons, Sacred Heart won the National title for the fourth occasion in the last eight years in Christchurch on Friday.
Goals from Max Ongley, Joel Clissold and Riwai Stanton earned a 3-0 victory in the final against Mount Albert Grammar School.
MAGS was only fifth in Auckland, 21 points behind St Kent’s, but Sinclair was unsurprised to see their fellow Auckland adversaries in the decider. MAGS eliminated St Kent’s in the National semi-final with a Thomas Golding double the telling difference.
“Tournament football is different to league football. It’s about being the best team on the day and comes down to team spirit, luck and risk. MAGS are a good side. They are conditioned by the same coach we have so they’re fit and play a similar style,” Sinclair explains.
Sacred Heart had drawn their last encounter with MAGS 4-4, but he believes collective leadership was the key to reversing that result.
“I’m officially the captain, but I believe we’re all captains,” Sinclair asserts.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced players and it’s the job of the seniors to help the juniors step up,” Sinclair continued.
The fickle nature of tournament football was best illustrated by Sacred Heart’s struggles against St Patrick’s College, Wellington. St Pats failed to make the top four in the capital, but held Sacred Heart to a 1-1 draw in pool play and then reached the National semi-final which was decided in a penalty shootout after both team's hit the woodwork multiple times in regulation.
“The semi-final was the toughest game. We knew they would come out firing after the group game. They’re a really good side. They fight hard for the whole 90 minutes. Both teams wanted it bad and we did get a little bit lucky,” Sinclair concedes.
Year 11 goalkeeper Declan Viljoen proved to be a hero saving a penalty with the last kick in regulation and three in the shootout which Sacred Heart won. Jack Duncan, Malcolm Young, Ongley, Stanton and Sinclair converted their chances.
“Declan’s been in the squad since Year 9. He's started this year. He’s been huge,” Sinclair acclaims.
Sinclair plays in the midfield additionally appearing in senior fixtures for Eastern Suburbs in the National League. Easts were beaten in the semi-finals by eventual winners Auckland City, but twice tamed 2017 champions Team Wellington.
Sinclair was born on the Gold Coast, but represented New Zealand at the Under-17 FIFA World Cup last year and was in the New Zealand Under-20 squad who won OFC U-19 Championship in Tahiti in August.
Sacred Heart National Results
Pool Play: Lincoln High School, 1-0
Pool Play: St Patrick’s College, Wellington, 1-1
Pool Play: New Plymouth Boys’ High School, 3-0
Round of 16: St Paul’s Collegiate, 2-0
Quarter Final: St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, 3-0
Semi-Final: St Patrick’s College, Wellington, 0-0 (Won on penalties)
Grand Final: Mount Albert Grammar School, 3-0
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