At the Tasman Secondary Schools Futsal Champs on 11 March, the Senior Boys A team won the tournament in a nail-biting penalty shootout against Nelson Boys College in the final.
The team of eight, named Nayland Columbia, was composed of Ben Baller, Jose Cano, Josh Carter (Captain), Andres Castillo, Kiran Cramer, Connor Johnston, Janek Koziol and Matthew Rees. They played their first game against Waimea College at 9am.
After warming up in the first half, Nayland were clearly dominant in a successful first game that ended 8-3. Spirits were high after a goal frenzied first game, with some brilliant individual performances, but the team knew bigger challenges lay further ahead in the day.
Needing a win to send the team into the semi-final, the game against Boys College Futsal was going to be a hotly contested game, where years of old rivalries lay between opposing players.
A physical Boys College team were desperately fighting for a place and were slightly ahead as the first half ended 2-3, but Nayland soon proved to be a controlling ‘second-half team’, and at the buzzer the final score was 6-3 as Nayland sailed to another win, pulling back four goals in the second twelve-minute half.
However, with a daunting semi-final ahead, the Nayland team knuckled down for a place in the final. Deep into the second half and urgently needing a goal to keep them in the game, a powerful shot by Jose Cano brought Nayland level to 1-1 as a new energy swept the team (and a bit of relief for those watching). With all to play for, within the last minute, Janek Koziol completed the comeback and sent Nayland Columbia to the final with a brilliant goal between the goalkeepers’ legs to make it 2-1.
For most of the team, this was their last year at Nayland, and they wouldn’t get another shot at winning this tournament. This provided the impetus the team needed to give the last game their all.
They started the game a little shaky against Nelson College KNK as a result of the nerves, conceding early on and having to fight for every ball against a skillful side. The minutes went on, and their chances seemed slim as the other team’s defense was very strong, until with under two minutes left, Connor Johnston fired a rocket of a shot into the top of the goal to draw level with hardly any time left.
The clock ticked down to zero and suddenly Nayland Columbia found themselves in every player’s nightmare, a penalty shootout. With white knuckles from those watching on the side, Jose Cano and Connor Johnston scored their penalties, before Andres Castillo scored the winner as he was swarmed by the elated team.
Walking away with gold medals from their first tournament of the year is a great achievement for the Nayland Columbia team and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings.
By Student Journalist Josh Carter