A tense final few minutes saw Waikanae u13’s Osos Poderosos hold off Stop Out 4-3 on September 26th to win the Wellington Premiership final and achieve the Junior Club’s best result in a Wellington Competition.
The final match saw more than 60 supporters travelling to Petone to support the boys with tension permeating the atmosphere.
Two expertly executed strikes by Lucas Lambert within the first 20 minutes saw Waikanae take the lead only for Stop Out to peg one back just before half-time.
The boys absorbed a barrage of attacks by Stop Out in the start of the second half, with Jackson Templer deflecting a number of shots on goal and keeper Ryan Engelen returning the ball back to centre field.
The game was on a knife edge until Isaiah Story chipped the Stop Out keeper to score in the crowded goal box and extend the lead to 3-1. Stop Out however were not done and within ten minutes they had replied to again narrow the margin to 3-2.
Waikanae’s response was immediate, with confidence with the score on the board, the boys played some great passing football to deliver their final goal with Cooper Cotterill drawing both defenders and then the keeper, finally laying off to Drew Hedge for his finish into goal to bring the score to 4-2 nearing full-time.
Stop Out, continued to keep their heads high and battled well into extra time, managing to get a high ball into the back of the Waikanae net in the closing minute of the game.
The full-time whistle finally blew, calling a 4-3 win for the Waikanae Osos Poderosos as the boys received a standing ovation from all the spectators as they exited the field.
Osos Poderosos remained unbeaten for the season, winning against the best teams in the Wellington region. This saw them bring home the three cups, two for back to back league competitions and the Premier u13 Cup.
Coach Bernardo Neil said, “These boys, what they brought to the team was unity, like a family, which was the biggest thing I enjoyed this year. They really deserved the wins, and really played well.” The achievement sealed Bernardo’s “Coach of the Year” award for the second year running at Prizegiving the following day.
Waikanae AFC club President and acting Junior Convener Charlie Sturman was incredibly proud of the boys, saying “this team is one of the most successful junior teams the club has seen” and he is excited about the prospects for next year.