By Christopher Reive
Wintec Journalism student
Until today, Murrays Bay Intermediate had never won an NZCT AIMS Games football title.
Now they’ve won two.
The school has both a girls’ and a boys’ title to their name after going two-for-two in today’s finals at the Blake Park oval in Tauranga.
The boys’ final against Glen Eden Intermediate started with a flurry of attacking play from each side, with the ball spraying from one end of the pitch to the other.
After 10 minutes of non-stop aggression, the sides started to string passes together and get some structure in their play and Glen Eden found the lead midway through the half after Ethan Kucija sent one into the bottom corner leave Murrays Bay keeper Paul Bunge sprawling on the ground in a desperate attempt to stop it.
Murrays Bay got an equaliser early in the second half, cashing in on the pressure they’d created and a lapse in the defence.
The half remained even in all aspects, with the best chance to take the game falling to Kujica, who pushed his attempt wide this time.
Neither side could break the deadlock in extra time, so it all came down to a penalty shoot-out.
Ben Old of Murrays Bay stepped up to take the first shot, which a diving Luca Taylor blocked out.
The scoring was opened, again, by Glen Eden’s Ethan Kujica who placed it in the bottom corner.
The teams then traded blows before Paul Bunge stamped his mark on the game. Tied at 2-2, Jack Van Luijken had a chance to put Glen Eden in front, but a poorly struck penalty resulted in an easy chest-height save for Bunge.
Liam Cross rocketed his penalty into the back of the net, and Murrays Bay had the lead and Glen Eden’s goalkeeper Luca Taylor had the pressure kick.
A miss meant he would have to save the next attempt from the Murray’s Bay side for his team to still have a chance. Bunge, again, got himself in the way, saving the shot headed for the top corner.
Noah Tomlinson had the kick to win it for Murrays Bay. He didn’t look confident stepping up to the mark, but he smashed his penalty into the back of the net, making his side the AIMS Games champions for 2015.
Murrays Bay boys’ coach Brandon Kruyer said Tomlinson didn’t want to go last, but stepped up when he needed to.
“He’s a left footer so I knew with the wind coming around that he was going to be able to curl it,” Kruyer said. “He stepped up and did it. Our keeper was in tears afterwards; it just means so much.”
The girls’ squad had a much easier run in their final against Otumoetai.
After what was an even first half, two back to back goals in the space of five minutes saw them head into the half with a commanding 2-0 lead.
The girls tacked on another goal for good measure mid-way through the second half, and took away a 3-0 victory after losing in the final last year.
Murrays Bay girls’ coach Fred Te Aukura said it was awesome to come away with the result against an Otumoetai squad who have been strong throughout the tournament.
“The girls just gave it their all,” Te Aukura said. “They left everything on the field and once the whistle blew, that’s it, the party started.”
Warming up the growing crowd for the finals, the playoff for third and fourth in the boys’ division between North Cross Intermediate and Bucklands Beach Intermediate started at snail’s pace.
With all of one shot on target for the first half, the teams sprung to life to open the second. North Cross found the lead, which lasted about three minutes before Bucklands Beach got one back.
After an onslaught of attack from both teams, North Cross beat the keeper again to take a 2-1 lead.
Despite some late pressure from the desperate Bucklands Beach side, North Cross hung on to take third place.
The girls’ third and fourth playoff between Auckland Normal Intermediate and Berkley Normal Middle school was much more exciting, with end to end football being played and both teams creating chances all over the paddock.
Auckland Normal opened the scoring, but their lead was chopped down toward the end of the second half. With only minutes left in the game, extra time was looking likely. However it wasn’t needed, with Auckland Normal scoring from a quality long ranged effort to take a 2-1 win and third place.
In the boys’ Plate final, Remuera were able to take a come-from-behind win against a determined Farm Cove Intermediate team.
Farm Cove opened the scoring in the opening stages of the first half when captain Zac Tobin found the back of the net after some early pressure.
The first half was a back and forward affair, with both team having chances and both keepers making some stunning saves.
On the stroke of half time, Jamal Todd finished off a strong attacking move to put Remuera on the board.
They then found themselves within the first 5 minutes of the second half. Being awarded a penalty for a hand-ball in the box, captain Thomas Riesterer made no mistake from the spot.
Despite Farm cove having the majority of possession, they continually attacked Remuera’s left side defence despite being unable to find a weak link in the backline.
When a powerful strike by Oscar Yee flew over the keeper and into the top of the goal, there was little chance of Farm Cove making a comeback, and this showed in their response to the goal.
Deen Peterson had a chance to snag a late consolation goal when an interrupted pass fell to him on the half-volley, but he sprayed his attempt wide and Remuera took the win, 3-1.
The girls’ plate winners were Glen Eden Intermediate, whose one goal was enough to see them past Blockhouse Bay Intermediate.
In the boys’ bowl final, Te Puke Intermediate toppled Bethlehem College with a 2-0 win, and the girls’ bowl was taken out by Peachgrove Intermediate, who had a comfortable 4-1 win over Fairfield Intermediate.
For full results, click here
Anchor Boys Football Tournament Team: Roshan Kumar (Auckland Normal Intermediate), Kris Naicker (Glen Eden Intermediate), Ethan Kucija (Glen Eden Intermediate), Jayden Rodwell (Auckland Normal Intermediate), Flynn McCaul (Hutt Intermediate), Jack Duffy (St Peter’s College Auckland), Harry Lowe (St Kentigern College), Corban Piper (Northcross Intermediate), Harrison Freeman (St Peter’s College Auckland), Ryan Place (Northcross Intermediate), Liam Cross (Murrays Bay Intermediate), Levi Wilson (Northcross Intermediate), Ben Old (Murrays Bay Intermediate), Liam Gillion (Bucklands Beach)
Anchor Girls Football Tournament Team: Makayla-Rose Judd (Murrays Bay Intermediate), Petra Buyck (Baradene College), Emma Hall (Auckland Normal Intermediate), Star Te Aukura (Murrays Bay Intermediate), Lily Muspratt (Otumoetai Intermediate), Emma Vogel (Glen Eden Intermediate), Heidi Van Der Peet (Diocesan School for Girls), Courtney Bennett (Otumoetai Intermediate), Niamh Quann (Murrays Bay Intermediate), Kate Duncan (Auckland Normal Intermediate), Emma Larsen (Auckland Normal Intermediate), Amber Harrison (Bucklands Beach Intermediate), Larrisa Meads (Otumoetai Intermediate), Nikki Gabonlinscy (Berkley Normal Middle School)