“They're a strong, experienced side with strength at both ends. They are dogged defenders which allows us little time on the ball, while also being swift on the counter.”
It took a long time but National Secondary Schools football champions Hamilton Boys’ High School finally conquered the considerable challenge posed by Tauranga Boys’ College.
Three games in the last week between the fierce rivals ended with Hamilton claiming two narrow victories and a sixth Super 8 title.
Hamilton captain Logan Wisnewski is full of respect for the Titans.
“They're a strong side with strength at both ends. They’re dogged defenders which allows us little time on the ball, while also being swift on the counter.”
Last Wednesday a Scott Ellerington header ensured Tauranga dethroned Hamilton as the Waikato/Bay of Plenty champions.
As expected both sides easily won their opening two matches at the Super 8 tournament with Hamilton thrashing Rotorua Boys’ High School 5-0 and Gisborne Boys’ High School 6-2.
Grouped together in Pool B, the top qualifiers both decided to rest key players ahead of the finals, but Wisnewski insists the fixture wasn't a phony war.
“We won 2-1. It started kinda slow as both sides were cautious, but when things opened up there was some intense football. Wisnewski said.
Casey Sharplin and Daniel Ngungambili were the source of Hamilton’s goals.
In 2017, Napier Boys’ High School upset Hamilton on penalties in the decider of the Super 8. There would be no repeat 12 months later.
“Napier was a grudge match. We haven't forgotten what happened last year and we played really well beating them 2-0. They were a good side, but we were better on the day,” Wisnewski acclaims.
Hamilton’s goals were scored by Harry Stocker and Levi Clark, the former netting his 50th goal for the First XI.
It would be Wisnewski who would open Hamilton’s account in the final from the penalty spot, but Tauranga in their first climax since 2015 and seeking the prize for the first time since 2007 proved tough to foil.
“It was a really intense game. They stretched us on the edges and gave us little time on the ball. We tried to stick to our systems, but it wasn't always easy,” Wisnewski reveals.
Tauranga wing Alexander Elliott was especially menacing and a goal and an assist propelled Tauranga 2-1 ahead.
“I thought we needed fresh legs, but our coaches didn't panic,” Wisnewski concedes.
With 12 minutes remaining Hamilton levelled when striker Max Ericksen finished from 12 yards after a break by Levi Clark.
Clark would be in the action again a short time later. Wisnewski captures the drama.
“Levi darted down the left side and approached the goal. I'm not sure if he intended to shoot or cross, but the ball curled over the keeper and into the net, Wiseneski says.
The Super 8 is the last major schools tournament before the Nationals in September.
“We're all accountable for ourselves. As the captain I try and lead by example and assist the younger players, but everyone is expected to be honest, humble and give as much as they can,” Tom Stewart reveals when asked what's driving the success of the St Thomas of Canterbury College First XI football team.
St Thomas heads the Christchurch Secondary Schools competition having won all seven matches and outscored opponents 34 goals to four.
Highlights of the season include winning the Brentwood Trophy against Shirley Boys’ High School and the Connetics Shield against Burnside High School. The Connetics Shield is like the Ranfurly Shield of school football in Christchurch.
“A lot of the boys still find that game hard to talk about. It was a real heartbreaker and is the source of a lot of motivation,” Stewart rues when reflecting on the defeat to St Andrew’s College (STAC) in the 2017 Christchurch final.
St Thomas topped the regular season standings, but succumbed on penalties (4-3) in the decider. This year's first meeting was personal. What happened was extraordinary.
“We had a red card after 20 minutes and I thought ‘here we go again,’ but the boys caught fire and won 4-0. It was pretty special,” Stewart acclaimed.
St Thomas only lost three players from last season and only lose two for 2019. The team is coached by Richard Washington and Jacob Allen with management support from Blair Scadden who runs the junior development programme. In 2017 the year seven and eight intermediate side was seventh out of 57 teams at the Aims games.
Scadden is a former NZ Under-17 representative and Allen an ex Canterbury Dragons Squad Member.
Washington coached Allen as a student at St Thomas and together they combined to take St Thomas to the Nationals for only the third time in their history last year, finishing fourth. Stewart shares some memories of the camp gain.
“Nobody really knew who we were so we had nothing to lose. We won all three pool games before facing St Pats Wellington in the quarter final. Our goal keeper was sent off with 20 minutes to go which meant we had to put an outfield player into goal. Anton Smail was a hero. We managed to hold on to penalties and win the shootout,” he reflects.
The National semi-final was one-sided with Sacred Heart College scoring a commanding 3-0 win. What does St Thomas have to do to make the final in 2018?
“There's a bit more pressure on us this year because of that result. We have to stay grounded and not get too far ahead of ourselves. We have to trust our processes,” Stewart responds.
Most of the First XI plays men’s premier football on a Saturday in addition to training four times a week. Stewart was also captain of the New Zealand Secondary Schools team who toured the USA in April. The side played eight games with a notable victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy Academy.
“All of the Galaxy players are professionals. Their set up is pretty impressive so to beat them was a real highlight of a great tour,” Stewart enthuses.
St Thomas is growing its relationship with the CFA Academy and boasts All Whites legend Ryan Nelsen as an old boy.
In the school holidays St Thomas are playing a mini tournament against Nelson College and St Andrew’s College. The former beat St Thomas in the third place game at Nationals.
In October 2017, New Zealand become the first nation to qualify for the 2018 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup.
New Zealand won the Oceania Football Confederation Under-19 Women's Championship for a sixth time to earn their place in France in August, 2018.
The Oceania tournament featured six countries: New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Samoa and Tonga with the Kiwis winning all five matches and outscoring opponents 48 goals to one.
On Monday a provisional World Cup squad was selected and the following school girls have earned selection:
Hannah Blake - Saint Kentigern College
Georgia Candy - Hamilton Girls High School
Tahlia Herman-Watt - Rangiora High School
Tiana Hill - Otumoetai College
Maggie Jenkins - Epsom Girls Grammar
Anna Leat - Rangitoto College
Aneka Mittendorff - Westlake Girls High School
Rose Morton - Northcote College
Gabrielle Rennie - Rangiora High School
Kelli Brown - Hamilton Girls High School
Hannah Mackay-Wright - Rangitoto College
Dayna Stevens - Glenfield College
Hannah Blake with eight goals only trailed Emma Main (11) as the most prolific Kiwi goal scorer at the Oceania tourney.
There are 16 teams as the World Cup split into four pools of four. New Zealand is grouped with hosts France, African champions Ghana and the Netherlands.
The defending World Champions are North Korea while Germany and the USA have each won the bi-annual tournament which stretches back to 2002 three times.
New Zealand’s best result at the World Cup was in 2014 when they made the quarter finals.
New Zealand Under-20 World Cup Record
Goals For: 24
Goals Against: 41
Christchurch Boys’ High School won their annual exchange against Wellington College 3-0 in the capital this afternoon. Christchurch won the First XI football 5-2 and hockey 2-1 and the rugby 17-5.
The meeting between the 2017 Rankin Cup runners up, Christchurch Boys’ High School and Wellington champions, Wellington College ended in a 2-1 victory for Christchurch at the National Hockey Stadium.
Initially both teams struggled to adapt to the horrid conditions and fluid hockey was hard to come by. Wellington soon gained the upper hand and broke the stalemate with a goal midway through the first-half.
Christchurch rallied and equalised through Angus Keast. On the brink of halftime, Christchurch won a penalty corner and Keast struck again to make it 2-1 at the interval.
The second-half was scoreless, but Christchurch went closest to boosting their tally in an entertaining spectacle which suggests both are leading contenders in their respective competitions.
Devanand Bhika was the captain of Wellington College, Henry Shaw the skipper for Christchurch BHS.
Two goals each by Ben Crowley and Darius Van Wyk was the highlight of Christchurch’s 5-2 victory.
Crowley illustrated his considerable threat in the first 10 minutes by opening the visitors account, blasting home a rebound off the Wellington keeper. Moments later Crowley delivered a pinpoint corner for captain Chris Bommer to finish.
Wellington halved the deficit when a Jarred Hodson shot took a wicked deflection and slid by the hopelessly prone keeper.
Christchurch scored first in the second-half to make it 3-1, but Alex Johnson continued his goal scoring spree to make it 3-2.
Ultimately Christchurch was more clinical and the double threat of Crowley and Van Wyk proved too hard to contain.
The Christchurch league features 13 teams and is headed by St Thomas of Canterbury College who haven't conceded a goal in six games.
On Saturday, Wellington opened the Trevor Rigby Cup with a disappointing 0-3 loss to Rongotai College.
Christchurch Boys’ High School scored their 12th win against Wellington College since 1995, battling to a 17-5 victory.
Wellington wilted in similar conditions last Wednesday in a record loss to St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.
Today the hosts defence was far more committed and effective resulting in a genuinely competitive tussle.
Christchurch possibly enjoyed three quarters of the territory, but didn’t breach the Wellington line until about the 20th minute when burly No.8 Corban Harding bustled over. The try happened after three reset scrums as both front rows struggled with their footing in the slush.
The Christchurch halves pairing of Louie Chapman and Ollie Lewis formed a sound partnership, frequently sending Wellington into retreat with some assured kicking.
Just prior to halftime, Christchurch scored their second try when prop Austin Hewitt rumbled over, punishing a Wellington fumble. The tighthead was excellent for Christchurch bossing his side of the scrum and carrying strongly.
Wellington’s best chance in the first-half was when centre Frank Coop kicked a spillage forward and only just missed placing the ball before the dead ball line.
Wellington would make Christchurch pay from a kick early in the second spell though. A knock on by Max Hughes was hacked ahead by opposite Liam Collett who outpaced all chasers.
The mud made most of the combatants indistinguishable and ball almost impossible to catch. The kick was the most potent attacking weapon and Hughes sealed Christchurch’s win, atoning for his earlier blemish, by kicking precisely for wing Yoji Yabe to slide in.
Wellington tighthead Geordie Bean and openside Ridge Studd were tireless and sometimes brushing on defense.
On Saturday, Wellington College meets St Bernard’s College while Christchurch Boys’ High School clash with St Bede’s College.
Below: Try scoring highlights from the First XV rugby and first half football photos:
The Tauranga Boys’ College First XI has battled to avoid relegation in the WaiBop Football league in recent seasons.
After six rounds in 2018 the schoolboys were on top of the standings. In the 12-team senior competition this is an almost unheard of precedent.
Tauranga Captain Lewis Reid emphasises an experienced roster is a key factor in the transformation of fortunes.
“We only lost three players this year as opposed to 11 the previous season. Experience helps with better decision making. The men's games are very physical. The men are out there to prove we are schoolboys so we have to play with a lot of speed and ticker,” Reid explains.
Eight of the teams are based in the Waikato and the furthest road trip is two hours south to Taupo.
In three weeks Tauranga will head north to Hamilton Boys’ High School for the annual Super 8 tourney where they are grouped with the hosts whom they also play in a Nationals qualifier on June 27. Hamilton is the reigning National champions and beat Tauranga twice last season.
“We lost 1-0 and 2-1. They were really close games we could have won. Hamilton is a good team, but with more experience I think we'll be better placed to take our chances,” Reid warns.
Was Reid surprised Hamilton kicked onto to win the Nationals when Tauranga only managed to finish 19th?
“I guess it's better than an Auckland school winning it all the time, but Hamilton are our rivals and we could have beaten them,” Reid moans
With two points against St Paul’ Collegiate next week or Hamilton on the 27th, Tauranga will confirm their place at Nationals. Tauranga have mostly breezed through their qualifying matches thus far, accounting for Bethlehem College (7-0), Hillcrest High School (6-0), St John’s, Hamilton (6-1) and St Peter’s, Cambridge (3-2).
St Peter’s are coached by former All Whites and Phoenix mentor Ricki Herbert. Goals from Riley Bidois and Scott Hawkins arrested a deficit before Reid made a telling impact off the bench.
“I played about 20 minutes. I've been struggling with a back injury I got in April. I wanted to come on and make a difference and I was lucky to pop the ball into the net,” Reid reflects.
Reid also scored three goals in the record 6-1 traditional win against Westlake Boys’ High School. The only interschool defeat Tauranga has suffered was a narrow 1-2 setback against Auckland Grammar School.
“It's going well for us. The Super 8 will be a real gauge to see where we're at. Napier Boys’ actually won last year which was a bit of surprise. Palmerston North and New Plymouth are always really strong too,” Reid observes.
Like every football fan on the planet, Reid will soon have his eyes firmly fixed on the World Cup and is picking either France or Belgium to win the tournament.
“I was really puffing when the final went to extra time. I wasn’t the fittest, but to score a penalty and win was pretty surreal,” Logan Wisnewski responds when asked to recall the National Secondary Schools First XI Football decider last year.
Hamilton Boys’ High School stunned reigning champions Sacred Heart College, Auckland, in a shootout. Wisnewski was an improbable hero. Several months early disaster had struck. Wisnewski broke his leg.
“It was May 18, the first competitive game of the season. We were leading 8-0 with ten minutes to go and I tried to win a 50/50 through ball and hopped away sore. I tried to play on, but it was really bad in the dressing room,” Wisnewski laments.
Consigned to a cast for 12 weeks, Wisnewski’s hopes of New Zealand Under-17 selection were dashed, but valuable character building occurred.
“The hardest thing being injured is watching the games. You can’t do anything to influence the results, but I tried to stay involved in other ways. I did some analysis and ran the water,” Wisnewski reflects.
Wisnewski didn’t start a single match at Nationals, but his contributions from the bench were pivotal in Hamilton’s success. His greater ability to observe has been acknowledged this season. Wisnewski has been appointed First XI skipper.
“I guess I have a lot of experience watching games. My brothers played in the First XI too so I guess I can relay convincingly what it means to play for Hamilton,” Wisnewski answers when addressing the question of what he brings to the leadership of the team.
Hamilton’s team is younger than the 2017 class, featuring only five returns. Wisnewski is adamant though Hamilton is in good shape.
“We’ve got Levi Clark and Harry Stocker back. Levi was our player of the year last year and Harry our top goal scorer,” Wisnewski explains.
“We’ve had a couple of camps and the boys are working hard and looking look,” he continued.
On Saturday May 5, Hamilton won the annual Referees Cup pre-season tournament held at St Peter's School, Cambridge (pictured right - photo credit HBHS website). The tournament involves eight different schools throughout the Waikato Region and Hamilton beat their second XI 4-0 in the final with Wisnewski scoring two goals. Hamilton’s seconds had upset the hosts in pool play.
The most significant pre-season result was a 0-0 draw with Sacred Heart College, the same score as the National final. Wisnewski warns Sacred Heart will be a strong team again.
In addition to football Wisnewski is accomplished on the Futsal court.
Discovering the sport at a holiday programme age of five, Wisnewski has represented New Zealand at an age group futsal level and guided the Hamilton senior team to a third placed finish at Nationals in Wellington in March.
It’s a busy season for the country’s leading female football players, with club and school commitments and the additional incentive to earn selection for the squads for the U20 World Cup (5-24 August) and the U17 World Cup (13 November – 1 December) all looming large.
Below are some of the players who should feature prominently throughout the remainder of 2018.
Hannah Blake (St Kentigern College) – The St Kentigern College Striker helped her school to an outstanding 2017 season winning the College Sport Auckland Championship, Knockout Cup and the NZSS title. The prolific striker will be on hand for some of her final College season as she also has to juggle her commitments with the New Zealand U-20 side heading to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in France and the Future Ferns Domestic Programme.
Macey Fraser & Gabrielle Rennie (Rangiora High School) – The duo are current members of the New Zealand U-17 Women’s squad that competed in the 2017 U-16 OFC Championships and are now working towards the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Uruguay later this year. Both are also members of the Future Ferns Domestic Programme Squad that plays in the AFF/NFF 17 Boys Conference League. Fraser is a skillful central midfielder and Rennie a speedy attacker.
Maya Hahn (Hutt Valley High School) – Receiving MVP at the 2017 U-16 OFC Championships speaks volumes of the talent Hahn possesses. The talented midfielder began her year with a bang as a guest player for Christchurch’s Waimakariri United who placed first in the U-17 National Club Championships. However, the midfielder is based in Wellington and a product of the Ole Football Academy and is almost certain to feature in Leon Birnies U-17 squad for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Tiana Hill (Otumoetai College)
She's not the biggest defender going around, but Hill's aggression and physicality makes up for her lack of size. Named MVP for Otumoetai at the NZSS Premier tournament in 2017 while helping her team to finish a respectiable 10th place, Hill will be keen to use her experience as a WaiBOP Football National Women's League player and Claudelands Rovers Women's Premier captain to help her school side in her final year of school.
Arabella Maynard & Talisha Green (Takapuna Grammar)
The attacking duo headlines the attack for both club and school. Both of the youngsters have pace to burn and a keen eye for goal. The Forrest Hill Milford Women's Premier players are sure to torment the defences they come up against in the Auckland Premier division.
Alisha Perry (Mt Albert Grammar School) The youngster has had tough shoes to follow in between the sticks at Mt Albert Grammar but some superb performances, including in the 2017 NZSS National Premier Final where she saved Football Fern Hannah Blake’s penalty, has seen her come into contention for a spot in the National U-17 side for the upcoming World Cup.
Hannah Pilley (Baradene College) –Pilley is an athletic forward who knows how to find the back of the net. Making her debut for Eastern Suburbs’ Women’s Premier side at just 15-years old, Pilley took her goal scoring exploits to the national stage scoring twice in the 2017 New Zealand Football Knockout Cup final. With the talent of Pilley and fellow youngsters Petra Buyck, Ruby Rimmer and Kate Duncan, Baradene will no doubt be challenging St Kentigern College for the Auckland Premier title again this year.
Rene Wasi (Westlake Girls) – The 2017 Westlake Girls Junior Player of the Year is one for the future. Wasi has a good chance of making her International debut at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup after strong performances in recent times for school, club (Forrest Hill Milford) and Northern Football earning her selection into the recent U-17 National team camp. The youngster claimed the Golden Boot award at last year’s NZSS National Premier Tournament.
Acknowledgments to: Steph Trowill
The start of the new term means the start of winter sport around the country, and with club and First XI football, leading up to the National tournament in early September, there is lots on in the round ball code.
Below are some players to watch this year.
Oscar Browne (St Peter’s College, Auckland) - A fast and skilful attacker who was named MVP at the National Under-17 Club Champs this year with Western Springs who he also represents at Men's Premier level. St Peter’s haven’t been a major contender in Auckland for some time, but a player of Browne’s quality will no doubt boost their prospects.
Shannon Lucas (Rongotai College) - Despite having a near career-ending injury two years ago the Rongotai keeper got back into his work and make a name for himself by winning the golden glove award at the most recent National Secondary Schools Futsal Tournament. Rongotai won the Players Trophy Final against St Pats Silverstream last year, but will be looking to step up to Premier I and in Lucas they have a rep standard keeper who could trigger surprise and success.
Tyler Mounty (St Bede’s College, Christchurch) - The defender and keen Softballer is set for a big year. Mounty was a standout for champions Mainland at the National Age Group Tournament in Wellington in early December. Mounty was named in the tournament team.
Rick Muir (Nelson College) - After winning the National title in 2015, Nelson finished a disappointing 12th in 2016. Nelson rebounded strongly in 2017 losing in the semi-finals to eventual champions Hamilton BHS before finishing third. Muir was a key part of that revival and will look to match the leadership of David Maisey last year. Nelson only conceded three goals at Nationals.
Lewis Reid (Tauranga BC) - Captain of Tauranga for the second year in a row, Reid is a classy performer with a wealth of senior experience and a sound all-round game. Tauranga have started the season strong having already beaten Francis Douglas College, New Plymouth BHS and King’s College comfortably.
Kingsley Sinclair & Leon Van Den Hoven (Sacred Heart College, Auckland) - The midfield pair are inseparable and enjoyed a busy and fruitful 2017. After both playing for the New Zealand U17’s in the World Cup in India they were selected for the Eastern Suburbs National League side. The Sacred Heart First XI won the Auckland Premier League title last year and lost the National decider on penalties with Sinclair and Van Den Hoven a dominant duo.
Thomas Wagner (Rathkeale College) - After finishing runners-up to St Pat’s Town in the Players Trophy in 2016, Rathkeale College made the jump to the top division in Wellington in 2017 and immediately made an impact when they knocked over Wellington College and held eventual champions St Pat’s Town to a draw. Rathkeale finished a respectable ninth at Nationals and Wagner was crucial in that effort finishing the tournament as the top scorer and later earning selection for the New Zealand Under 19’s who toured the US over the recent school holidays.
Logan Wisnewski (Hamilton BHS) - The captain of Hamilton plays as a defensive midfielder. Logan was on the cusp of the New Zealand Under-17’s last year, but missed out due to an unfortunate leg break that ruled him out of selection. Wisnewski was captain of the New Zealand Under-18 futsal team that finished second at the Oceania Champs. He plays his club football for Melville and is sure to ensure Hamilton fights hard to retain their National title. Harry Stocker, a third year striker and the team’s top goal-scorer last year also returns as vice-captain.
Acknowledgments: Hamish Wareham
New Zealand is considering a bid for the 2020 Futsal World Cup. The venue or precise logistics around the bid have yet to be resolved, but what is certain is that futsal is a sport experiencing massive growth, particularly at the secondary school level where the recent NZSS Championships were well attended and hotly contested. Annual growth in futsal has been around 25 percent annually for each of the past five years.
The Futsal World Cup has been running since 1989. New Zealand has never qualified in eight attempts, but have been close finishing runners-up in the Oceania tournament three times.
The last World Cup was held in Colombia and won for the first time by Argentina. The event was attended by 139,307 spectators, an average of 2,679 per match.
Winning hosting rights for the World Cup would be a massive fillet for a sport on the rise. Jack Piper from Capital Futsal is at the forefront of Futsal’s growth and spoke to College Sport Media about its growth, administrative challenges and plans. Piper is typically a goalkeeper for Petone in the Central League.
What is the appeal of Futsal?
It’s an alternative format to football that can be played year round. We’ve seen a lot of sports like sevens and floorball emerge to increase engagement in the youth space. There has been a drop off in youth participation numbers in traditional sports so futsal is a quicker way of keeping youth involved while retaining the essence of football.
What are the differences in rules from normal football?
It’s five a side with a goalkeeper. The rules are relatively similar to football, but there are subtle differences. Instead of a throw-in, there is a kick-in. The ball used is slightly heavier than the one outside and if you concede five fouls a half it’s an automatic penalty. Most games are played on a netball sized court, senior league courts are slightly bigger.
How many teams are there in Wellington and how are competitions structured?
There are 300 teams in Wellington, 215 of which are in the high school space. The season runs opposite to football in terms one and four. In terms two and three we are starting primary school leagues which is an exciting new development. Junior and adult leagues are typically played at Walter Nash Stadium, Lower Hutt, Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua and the ASB Sports Centre, Wellington.
How much does it cost to play?
To enter a junior team in a six week league it costs about $250. One of the best things about futsal is that it’s relatively cheap to play. Our greatest expense is around court hire and with so many court sports that can be tricky, but were lucky we have strong relationships with the local authorities which helps keep costs down.
What is the relationship like between NZ Football and NZ Futsal?
In 2011, futsal was included under the New Zealand Football administrative umbrella. This has greatly increased the funding and attention Futsal receives. There are lots of skills which transition from futsal to football. Todd Bryant is the manager for the overall development and growth of futsal in Wellington. He has done a great job expanding numbers and building relationships within the local community.
Is the National Secondary Schools Championships Futsal’s biggest event?
Yes it is. There are over 60 teams competing nationwide, every court at the ASB Centre has been full the last few years. It’s a great atmosphere and an amazing spectacle. The standard is getting higher all the time. Capital were delighted with their results this year. Wellington schools won three of the four titles available.
Who are the strongest senior teams in New Zealand?
Wellington has never won a National championship, but we’ve been second a number of times and always produce a competitive team. Mainland, Auckland and Northern are typically the strongest sides. At the high performance level futsal is a growing sport, but were really encouraged by the number of quality youngsters coming through and the growing competitiveness of the National League.
Tell us about the World Cup bid?
I can’t say a lot about that, but it’s something were exploring. Futsal is a sport enjoying massive growth. It’s a very exciting time to be involved.
Shannon Lucas won the Golden Glove award as the best goalkeeper at the National Secondary Schools Futsal tournament last week. Two years ago it was uncertain whether the Rongotai College First XI footballer would ever kick a ball again.
“I tore an ACL in the first five minutes of a game jumping into the air to make a save. My right leg was off the ground and the opposing striker accidentally crashed into my left leg which was still on the ground. I felt a snap right away,” Lucas bemoans.
Lucas was sidelined for the best part of two years, but found solace and strength in rowing.
“I discovered rowing was a way of strengthening the muscle and I really got into it. I had some success and it was an amazing experience, but I’m better at football,” Lucas reveals.
Lucas is a Capital Futsal representative and believes his inclusion in that programme along with some of his Rongotai teammates explains the success of his school in futsal this year. Rongotai finished runners up to Wellington College at Nationals, but beat the same opposition in the local final.
“I think we’ve bonded strongly as a team this season and the boys in the Capital team have been able to transfer some of the skills learnt at a higher level to Rongotai which has been awesome,” Lucas enthuses.
Last Friday, Rongotai was narrowly beaten by Wellington 2-0 in the National final. Lucas made a series of exceptional saves. He was proud of the Rongotai effort.
“We were disappointed to lose, but the intensity of that match was an amazing experience and we left everything out there. We beat Hamilton Boys’ 2-1 in the semi-final and that was another highlight of the week,” Lucas says.
Two days later the same teams met in the final of the Wellington league. Wellington had beaten Rongotai three times this season and initially it appeared history would repeat itself again.
“We were chasing the whole game. Three times we fell behind, three times we equalised. We were keen prove ourselves and it was a team effort to beat them,” Lucas acclaims.
Rongotai won 7-6 on penalties.
“I managed to save Wellington’s second shot, but then one of our shooters missed and was 2-2 going into sudden death. I saved another shot and they missed again so we won,” Lucas reflects.
Lucas is a restless figure in goal and explains the method to his madness.
“I need to be on my toes all the time. When the ball is headed towards me, I’m thinking about any number of possibilities. Will he shot? Will he pass? Do I have to go left? Do I have to go right? Things happen quickly and it can get pretty crazy,” Lucas laughs.
Lucas sported a shaved head for the final sponsoring a cancer fundraiser.
Lucas has been playing futsal for less than three years. In 2017, Lucas was the Golden Gloves winner at the National U16 tournament.
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