Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) have won the National Fustal Senior Girls Championship for the fifth time at the ASB Sports Centre in Wellington this afternoon.
MAGS were the warmest of favourites to retain their title and did so resisting a tenacious challenge from New Plymouth Girls’ High School in the final.
With less than two minutes remaining, New Plymouth was down 4-3 and pressing hard for an equaliser. New Plymouth lost the ball in the midfield and Maisy Dewell pounced on the loose possession twisting past two defenders and slotting the ball into the net for a decisive 5-3 lead.
Earlier MAGS appeared well in control establishing a 4-1 advantage. Dewell was a menace for New Plymouth’s defence from the outset, twice hitting the post in the first five minutes.
The tournament’s top goal-scorer, Grace Jale, opened the scoring for MAGS when New Plymouth conceded a meek turnover and Alesi Bloomfield and Nicole Mettam combined to leave Jale one-on-one with the keeper. Jole scored 19 goals throughout the tourney.
MAGS doubled their lead when Mettam tapped in following a typically piercing run by Bloomfield.
New Plymouth struggled to match MAGS precision and another soft turnover in the back half of the court led to Medham dribbling in a second goal.
Madelyn Watkins pulled one back for New Plymouth, but slick inter-passing between Kathryn Ann-Gow and Medham saw the latter complete her hat-trick.
MAGS surprisingly rested Jale for much of the second-half and this coupled with greater New Plymouth intensity saw the match turn in favour of the underdogs.
Maiah Findlay halved the deficit and then Watkins blasted in her second goal to make it 4-3 with about five minutes to play. The industry of Jendi Frank and Mackenzie Barry was a big part of the New Plymouth resurgence.
When Jale returned she immediately forced two desperate saves from the New Plymouth keeper before Dewell's nimble touch finally settled the outcome.
MAGS are presently the National Fustal and Football champions.
The award for senior Girls MVP was won by Macey Fraser of Rangiora High School who nearly caused a boil over in the semi-final narrowly losing to MAGS 5-4.
The junior competition contained a field of seven teams and was won by Hillcrest High School from Hamilton ahead of Papanui High School in second and New Plymouth Girls' High School in third. Papanui's Brooke Tear was awarded the MVP and Golden Boot of the tournament.
Fustal is a sport experiencing rapid growth in New Zealand. For the first time a National women's team will be selected in 2017 and there is an ambition in the future for the National Secondary Schools Championships to be organised entirely by students.
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