“I was scared when I saw it hit the post. We’d already had a couple of near misses. I struck it where I wanted, but I honestly thought it had missed,” Zander Edwards recalls of his first goal in the Trevor Rigby Cup final for Wellington College against Scots College.
Down 1-2 at halftime, Wellington leveled after an hour when Edwards swiftly latched onto a swirling ball and shot between two defenders from 20 yards.
“When it went in I was like this could be our day. It didn’t feel like that earlier.”
Wellington tumbled behind again when Rory Best turned George and netted a third for Scots but Wellington had unflinching faith in their attacking methodology.
“We planned to hit them on attack. We’ve scored a lot of goals this season and you are not going to beat the champions by sitting back. Sometimes we were up too high which left us exposed at the back but generally we’ve got that balance right this season.”
Wellington's third goal was scored when they out-committed Scots in the penalty area.
“I’m not sure what happened but the ball was bouncing around and I thought I’d put it into the back of the net. Scots protested the goal. I heard a high pitch screech, but I don’t think there was anything in it.”
There is plenty of courage in the DNA of Cooper Duggan. The experienced striker hobbled off just prior to halftime, but returned with half an hour remaining, eventually setting up the winner for Edwards with a sizzling burst down the left wing.
“Cooper is a wonderful player, it’s a real privilege to play with him. He is dangerous anytime he gets the ball. He can create as well as score. It was brave of him to come back on, but I wasn’t surprised because we needed him.”
Wellington was able to play more cautiously with the lead, but it wasn’t comfortable.
“It kind of fell apart because Scots got back in our half and had a few shots on goal. We were basically playing for the whistle and didn’t realise there were five minutes of extra time.”
The blustery wind was another tax.
“A wind like Saturday changes the whole complexion of the game. In one half you can hit the long ball but against the breeze you have to play on the deck and weigh your passes.
“Our ground is quite exposed so we often train in the wind. Cones and goals blow over. I honestly think the strong wind was an advantage for us.”
Edwards has given Wellington College an advantage since arriving from Rathkeale College in 2019. In just his second game for Wellington he scored four goals in a staggering 10-0 win against St Patrick’s College, Wellington. In 2021 he scored 21 goals in 18 games and finished the Trevor Rigby Cup as the golden boot winner.
He was born in Northampton, England and supports Arsenal. He is involved with the Miramar Rangers club.
Hamish Wareham is a guru of Wellington Secondary Schools Football and observed:
“Zander is the first player in Trevor Rigby Cup final history to score a hat-trick. I’ve never seen a final like Saturday’s, unbelievable. Wellington struggled to contain Alden Suri in the first-half, Scots' lethal talisman scoring twice. Once Alden was starved of the ball, Wellington was able to dominate and Zander was deadly in front of goal. What a game. I’m still buzzing.”
Story for College Sport Media by Adam Julian, September 2021.
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