Ep­som Girls scoop up all the foot­ball hon­ours

Auckland City Harbour News - - Sport - By Scott Mor­gan

It was a clean sweep for the Ep­som Girls Gram­mar first 11 soc­cer team this sea­son.

Af­ter mak­ing it through the Auck­land pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onships un­beaten in Au­gust, the side took out the New Zealand secondary school­girls premier foot­ball tour­na­ment in Nel­son.

Ep­som coach An­drew Clay says he was blessed with an “ex­cep­tion­ally good team” this year.

“It’s hard to win without qual­ity play­ers.”

Two of the stand­outs in his side in­clude New Zealand un­der-20 play­ers Han­nah Wall and An­nalie Longo.

Wall shifted from Welling­ton to Auck­land this year to pre­pare for the un­der­women’s world cup in Novem­ber.

“Up front she was elec­tri­cally quick,” Clay says.

Wall says one of the keys to winning the ti­tle was gelling as a team early in the sea­son.

But it was hard fac­ing some of her New Zealand team-mates, who were play­ing for op­po­si­tion sides.

“When you come up against them they know how you play,” she says.

Bei­jing Olympian Anna Green also turned out for Ep­som Girls at the tour­na­ment.

Clay says the side were the favourites go­ing into the tour­na­ment, but faced a huge chal­lenge from Avon­dale Col­lege in their semifi

“We were 1-0 down with 20 min­utes to go. It was a real ding-dong bat­tle.”

Ep­som scored two late goals to sneak away with a 2-1 victory.

He says their 3-0 win in the fi­nal against St Peter’s from Cam­bridge was rel­a­tively comfortable, de­spite muddy con­di­tions caused by per­sis­tent rain.

As well as foot­ball, Clay says the play­ers were study­ing in be­tween matches in prepa­ra­tion for up­com­ing ex­ams.

“We had a teacher with us, so they were hit­ting the books hard.”

Clay says tak­ing the ti­tle next sea­son will be more dif­fi­cult be­cause sev­eral play­ers are set to move on from secondary school.

But he’s cer­tain next year’s side will give it their best shot.

“It’s all well and good be­ing good on pa­per, it’s about be­ing good enough to do it.”

Full stretch: Ep­som Girls Gram­mar soc­cer rep Han­nah Wall, right, slips past Avon­dale Col­lege’s Therese Saito at the New Zealand secondary school­girls premier foot­ball tour­na­ment in Nel­son ear­lier this month.

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