Double delight for middle school

Cambridge Middle School proved its depth of football talent last Tuesday, taking out the boys’ and girls’ divisions of the Waikato Intermediate and Middle Schools nine-a-side football tournament at Jansen Park in Hamilton.

The girls’ team, coached by Simon Foy, played Matamata Intermediate in their first pool game, drawing 0-0.

Casey Brook-Smith celebrates after scoring a goal against Morrinsville Intermediate at the Waikato Intermediate and Middle Schools (WIMS) football tournament in Hamilton on May 7.

Taking on Maeroa Intermediate next, they conceded a goal in the first half but fought back in the second to finish 1-1 thanks to a Leila Savage strike.

Their third game versus Te Awamutu was an arm-wrestle and remained scoreless until one minute before the final whistle, when Lauren Waters received a beautiful cross and showed admirable composure as she took on the goalkeeper and smashed the ball high into the left corner of the net.

The fourth game, a tight encounter with Berkley Normal Middle School, finished in a nil-all draw.

Cambridge took on Morrinsville Intermediate in their semi-final, dominating the match to win 4-0. The final goal was a stunner from Casey Brook-Smith, whose powerful strike from 25m outside the box sailed in just under the top post.

Going for gold in their final against Maeroa Intermediate, Cambridge went out fighting. Goalkeeper Chelsea Baird shut down a one-on-one attack five minutes into the first half and rallied her defence just two minutes later to successfully clear the ball after a goal-mouth scramble. Surging on attack, Cambridge saw three chances go begging before Rosie Halliday scored with a shot that squeaked in off the right-hand post just before halftime. Three minutes later, Waters struck, sending the ball sailing into the goal’s top-left corner. Maeroa came back hard in the game’s final five minutes, but Baird kept her composure to save two shots and seal Cambridge’s 2-0 victory.

Celebrating Ronaldo style, the delighted team lined up along halfway to leap into the air and pirouette in unison.

Coach Simon Foy said the team had trained together for about two months and had grown as the tournament went on.

“The secret I would say was just the togetherness, the team spirit of the school,” he said.

Twelve-year-old player Ava Williams had “not really” been expecting to win and said it felt fantastic.

“Last year we lost really badly; we came second to last,” she said.

Interviewed after the final, she and teammate Addy Mason were hoping to celebrate with ice cream.

Girls’ team members were Chelsea Baird, Sienna McHale, Leila Savage, Casey Brook-Smith, Ava Williams, Emily Cameron, Lauren Waters, Summer Skipps, Zara Nabizada, Addy Mason, Annabelle Foy and Rosie Halliday.

The boys’ team, coached by Steve Lee, opened strongly, winning their first pool match against Te Awamutu Intermediate 7-0 thanks to three goals from Arthur Tilghman, two from Asa Ayas and one each from Charlie Trollope and Theo Leef.

Their second match proved tougher as Berkely Normal Middle School held them to nil-all in the first half, but the floodgates opened in the second half, when Ayas and Leef impressed with their silky skills to net two goals each and Tilghman added another to his total, bringing the final score to 5-0.

Ayas came to the party again in Cambridge’s third match against a strong Matamata side, scoring the game’s only goal to seal a 1-0 win.

Superb work from Maeroa Intermediate’s keeper kept Cambridge working hard for victory in their fourth game, which eventually came after Scott Shen smashed in a rebound off the gloves and Sebastian Bell scored after Darcy Jenkins cut his way up the right wing and punched through a cross.

Taking on Rototuna Junior High School in their semi-final, Cambridge scored midway through the first half when Shen sent a stunning header past the goalkeeper from a floated cross. Bell scored after a goal-mouth scramble just before halftime and Tilghman showed his class again, smashing the ball into the net just before fulltime to seal a 3-0 win.

With tournament victory on the line in Cambridge’s final against Matamata, Ayas scored with a powerful shot after four minutes, sending cheers erupting from supporters. In the second half, Tilghman struck again, chalking up two goals within two minutes. Just seconds before the final whistle Cambridge conceded a penalty but goalkeeper Archer Turner-Lines kept the shot out to maintain his team’s clean sheet for the tournament, to the delight of his teammates.

Twelve-year-old player Toby Cornegé felt his teammate Arthur Tilghman had made a big impact on the game.

“He’s like about as tall as all the adults and he’s real fast, he can just dribble past everyone,” he said.

He and teammate Ellis Williams had both expected to win.

“But it ended up being better than I thought; we kept a clean sheet,” Williams said.

“We had good passing in the first game and it ended up being like that the rest of the tournament.”

Coach Steven Lee described the group, which had trained together only once before the tournament, as “a mature side with composure under pressure”.

“They’re an awesome bunch of boys who all had great skills and worked superbly together as a team,” he said.

Boys’ team members were: Toby Cornegé, Ellis Williams, Archer Turner-Lines, Arthur Tilghman, Niko Vukojevich, Charlie Trollope, Scott Shen, Theo Leef, Asa Ayas, Sebastian Bell, Darcy Jenkins and Benji Lee.

Asa Ayas on attack for Cambridge Middle School at the Waikato Intermediate and Middle Schools (WIMS) football tournament in Hamilton on May 7.


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