Epsom Girls scoop up all the football honours
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.