The boys faced Wollongong in game one. The first game of the NSWCCC tournament is always difficult as the players have not performed together as a team, but from kick-off their technical and tactical ability was on show. The boys controlled the game from the start and produced some nice build-ups but struggled to execute in the final third. As the game progressed, they started to create good scoring opportunities and fresh players off the bench made a difference. We ran over the top of the opposition in the second half with Bhuvadej Lachaivaj scoring both goals in the 2-0 win.
The boys faced Armidale/ Bathurst/Wilcannia Forbes in game two and again dominated possession early and controlled the tempo of the game. Their ability to press as a united team and cover for each other was evident and the opposition struggled to deal with their ability to overload wide areas and combination play centrally. Finnegan Todhunter gave us the lead with an excellent circle shot on his left foot from outside the box. While we missed a few chances, we were able to add a second before halftime when Aswin Gurung picked up a loose ball after Lachaivaj and the opposition collided in a 50/50 from a through ball. It was another excellent finish from Gurung, as while it was an open goal, he had a lot of work to do and was a long way out.
The boys continued to dominate in the second half and added two more goals. Another fantastic goal from outside the box, this time from Lachaivaj who hit it on his right foot into the top right corner. The last goal was a wonderful team effort finished by Lachlan Griffiths for a 4-0 win
Game three was a tough one against Southern Sydney and ended in a 0-0 draw. Sydney were determined and organised and pressed with a lot of intensity. It made it difficult for our boys to play through the middle and get our midfielders on the ball. There were several chances throughout the game and George Scorer made some excellent saves to keep a clean sheet.
Game four against MCS resulted in a 3-1 win. The scenario was simple – win and progress to the final or lose and we were out. The boys were fired up and it was clear to see from the kick-off. It was the best pressing display by the team in the tournament, which allowed control the game. Goals from Lachaivaj and Gurung in the first half had Maitland-Newcastle right on top and the opposition looked rattled by our pace and pressure. In the second half, a back post header from Kierry James found the net for 3-1 scoreline. It was a dominant display and Max Bailey and Ben Clouten controlled the middle of the park.
The final against CBSA resulted in a 2-1 win.
The boys went into the game with heaps of confidence and energy. They knew the championship was within reach. They again started the game full of energy and pounced on any opposition mistakes. Controlling the tempo of the first half there was excellent chances for Lachaivaj and Bailey, but their shots went wide. The back four of Dominic Archbold, Dominik Brymora, Kyle McSeveney and Michael Byrnes limited the chances of the opposition and allowed the team to keep the pressure on the opposition. Byrnes almost scored the goal of the tournament when he picked up the ball in the midfield and shot from a distance on his left foot. Unfortunately, the ball just did not dip down enough and instead rattled the crossbar. The breakthrough in the game came early in the second half when Griffiths completed an excellent finish from an acute angle that hit the post and rolled into the back of the net.
After the goal, the boys went to another level of effort and intensity. This pressure was highlighted when Jackson Eckford pressed the opposition backline and won the ball, played it to Todhunter who took a shot that was saved by the goalkeeper. But Griffiths was there again to put the ball into the net to give us a 2-0 lead. A late goal by the opposition made for a bit of a nervous finish but the boys managed to defend well in the last couple of minutes giving us a 2-1 result to win the championship.
Dominic Archbold, Max Bailey, Dominik Brymora, Connor Butchard, Michael Byrnes, Benjamin Clouten, Jackson Eckford, Lachlan Griffiths, Aswin Gurung, Kierry James, Bhuvadej Lachaivaj, Ian Matthews, Kyle McSeveney, George Scorer and Finnegan Todhunter.
The girls had three wins and a loss to CGSSSA who ended up winning the final. Maitland-Newcastle’s strong performances highlighted the depth of talent and in an impressive effort, three girls were selected into the NSWCCC team. They were Te Reremoana Walker and Ally Boertje (both from SFX Hamilton), and Saffron Grass (St Clare’s Taree).