“I always take the first penalty. It’s been like that in every team I have played for. I love a shootout because as a goalkeeper it’s my chance to stake a claim for fame,” Keegan Hansen responds when asked if he actually enjoys penalty shootouts.
The bane of most footballers’ existence, think of David Beckham’s spectacular failures, Hansen on recent evidence appears to be speaking the truth.
At the Lotto Premier Boys National Secondary Schools Football tournament in Napier last week, Hansen was a hero in two penalty shootouts for surprise first time champions, Hamilton Boys’ High School.
Hamilton eliminated 2016 National runners up Saint Kentigern College in the quarterfinals and then denied Sacred Heart College repeat success in the decider – a far-fetched possibility at the start of 2017.
“At the start of the season we sat in a classroom and agreed on some goals for the season. We strived to make the top four at Nationals. We thought that would be really good, but for a while even that seemed really ambitious,” Hansen reveals of Hamilton’s initial targets.
In July, Hamilton stormed into the final of the perennially strong Super 8 competition, but was upstaged by Napier Boys’ High School in a penalty shootout, despite Hansen scoring with his first and only shot.
“We didn’t do anything about penalties before that game. We just rocked up and paid for it. After that loss we spent time after every training practicing penalties and resolved an order of shooters,” Hansen admits.
Despite defeat the Super 8 proved to be a real eureka moment.
“We really dominated that tournament and it was a letdown not to win it. We gained a lot of confidence from the way we played.”
At Nationals, Hamilton topped Pool H and then thumped Wellington College 5-0 in the Round of 16 to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Saint Kentigern College who had won all four games and scored 15 goals.
“It was 2-2 at full time which we felt was a bit harsh on us. We had played really well and deserved better. We had made most of the play, but they had caught us on the break a couple of times.” Hansen recalls of regulation time.
In the penalty shootout Hansen scored first and captures what happened next.
“Our second shooter missed which put the pressure on us. They got ahead 3-2 and then their shooter skied one. We got ahead 4-3 and then I managed to save one and we got through.”
Semi-final opponent and 2015 National champions, Nelson College hadn’t conceded a goal prior to meeting Hamilton, but were convincingly dispatched 2-0.
There would be nothing simple about foiling Auckland champions, Sacred Heart College. Hansen describes the tactical dilemma Hamilton faced.
“They are a strong outfit who score a lot of goals, but we resolved we were going to go down fighting. We knew we had to be a bit more defensive, but we didn’t want to park the bus either.”
The mix of attack and caution served Hamilton well. After regulation and extra time both teams had failed to score.
“I took the first penalty. I knew they would have watched our quarterfinal so instead of going for the bottom left corner which I normally do, I decided to blast it down the middle and was lucky to score,” Hansen recounts of the shootouts beginning.
Every shooter was on target until the score was 5-4 to Hamilton. Hansen was soon to have his biggest claim to fame.
“I managed to save the fifth shot. The shooter went to his left or my right and landed the ball in a good area for me. I managed to get down and palm it away.”
Luke Woolerton who started off the bench due to an ankle injury scored the last penalty for Hamilton.
In addition to his Boys’ High duties, Hansen plays for Melville United and has been involved with the New Zealand Under-17 program.
Hamilton Boys’ is the first school from the Waikato region to win the National title. They had been runners up previously.
Are there any secrets to being a good shot blocker?
“Not really. I just do the traditional jump up and hit the crossbar and think about where the striker might shoot. Occasionally I might have a word or two. They are just a nervous as I am,” Hansen concluded.
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