The top 15th grade boys Metro teams from across the three northern Federations competed in the inaugural AFF 15th Grade Pre-season Cup tournament series over the last three weekends. The tournament acting as a replacement to the Nike Cup was an excellent pre-season build up and extremely competitive and close. Ten teams competed in a round robin tournament that saw no team unbeaten, and heading into the final days play there were still six teams able to win the title.

East Coast Bays 15th Metro team, coached by Tel Sheehy was the only NFF team in the competition. With a stable core team, having 11 returning players from last year, plus 2 new players and 3 players from this years’ Conference squad, the Bays had six wins, two draws and just one defeat (a 1-0 loss from a dubious penalty decision). Going into the last game of the tournament East Coast Bays were sat in second place just 2 points behind the leaders Onehunga Mangere, knowing that a victory would see them win the tournament whilst a defeat would almost certainly see them drop to fourth place. In a tough and tense encounter, Anna kept us in the game early on with some great saves and goal-line clearances which allowed us to grow more and more into the game and search for a winning goal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and the teams ended up deadlocked at 0-0……which meant Bays only just missed out on the overall title and came in a very creditable second place to Onehunga Sports who contained several players from last years’ Nike Cup winning squad. 

So despite the disappointment of not quite getting the result we were working for, it was smiles all around as the team stepped forward to pick up its Silver medals with pride. Upon reflection, Tel is confident we can now look forward to the upcoming Metro season with optimism as we attempt to go one better than last years’ runners-up finish.

Matt Guilik and Jesse Kang were the top goal scorers for East Coast Bays and overall the team only conceded 8 goals over 9 hectic and intense matches.

Some outstanding and gallant performances from current New Zealand U-17 goalkeeper Anna Leat, who saved two penalties and made several key saves in the final match saw her named Golden Gloves winner for the tournament.

Finally, the team congratulates and farewells Sam Sutton, our ‘Captain fantastic’ and East Coast Bays club member for last ten years, as he moves to accept a place at the Phoenix Academy down in Wellington early next month. We wish Sam all the best for a successful time and career with the Phoenix!


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