A number of teams recently competed at the Wynton Rufer tournament.
11th Grade Sharks
There was a mix of eager anticipation and trepidation, as the team was in the ‘A’ roster, stacked with teams from the Premier League A division. The weather forecast was not encouraging, but in the end we were lucky as the rain largely held off until the end of the day.
Game 1: Olé Academy
Western Suburbs has been dominating the Premier League B division and their form shone through with a classy opening stanza. The sharks held their shape well against a well drilled Olé but conceded an early goal. The final 1-0 final scoreline was a huge improvement over the last meeting between the teams, and the effectiveness of a zone defensive strategy in defusing the opponent’s slick passing game was encouraging.
Game 2: North Wellington
North Wellington were the next opponents, and the Sharks were buoyed by an early goal to Labron Smith, played in by a lovely through ball from Gianpasquale Moreno. The team fought hard and weathered a sustained period of attack, particularly memorable for a brilliant one-on-one save by Cody Elliot in goal. The final hooter couldn’t come fast enough! At last the game was over, and a 1-0 victory to savour.
Game 3: Onslow
The task didn’t get any easier with Onslow up next. Another tightly fought game, with Onslow probably having the better of the chances. More excellent goalkeeping kept the sharks in the game until the final seconds, when Taylor Aiolo, spotting the goalkeeper off his line, lobbed him from long range and scored – sparking wild celebrations to end the game.
Game 4: KCU
Kapiti were the final round robin opponents. Having lost 3-2 to them the day before, payback was on the cards. A strong effort from both teams ended in a 0-0 draw, but the result was enough to qualify Island Bay for the semifinals in third place.
Semi final: Petone
The tournament draw saw the slightly unusual pairing of 1st vs 3rd, meaning our semifinal opponents were the 1st placed Petone team. An unlucky first goal, followed by two well finished moves saw Petone take the game 3-0 to advance to the final (which they won). The Sharks created some chances but it wasn’t to be their day.
Third Place Playoff: Olé Academy
The final game was the 3rd place playoff, and again the team were pitted against Western Suburbs. It was to be the highlight of the day, with the team finding another level of intensity to shut down their opponents through defensive pressure. The commitment and teamwork was fantastic to see, and meant that Wests only had a handful of shots on goal in the game. A lovely one-two play between Taylor and Gianpasquale led to the only goal of the game, and Wests were unable to find a way through the ferocious defense. Every member of the team worked so hard, and they were rewarded with victory and overall 3rd place.
Although Will Tahau was awarded player of the tournament for the sharks, it was a very successful day and a great experience for the entire team. Huge thanks and kudos to their dedicated coaches Janek and Henry.