Wellington Phoenix Academy coach, Paul Temple, was walking tall yesterday as his team, playing as Wellington United, won the Youth Development Trust under-17 tournament in Auckland.
Playing eight games in three days, the players won their way to the final where they beat Western Springs, last year’s beaten finalists, 4-1 on penalties after the teams were locked at 1-1 after extra time.
Leading 1-0 through a 35th minute goal from Oscar van Hattum Wellington United kept their lead till 14 seconds from full time when Western Springs equalised from a corner.
Such a setback would have knocked the stuffing out of most teams but the Wellington youngsters kept their composure to get safely through extra time.
In the shoot out Wellington calmly converted four penalties while goalkeeper Zac Dean pulled off two smart saves.
With Sarpreet Singh, who came through the Academy making a name for himself in the professional ranks, Auckland spectators may have seen the next graduate to make the grade in Willem Ebbinge.
Ebbinge looked all class as he pulled the strings during normal and extra time.
Temple described Ebbinge as “a really bright prospect” with real athletic ability.
“I was really proud of the way we played out from the back and through the midfield throughout the tournament,” Temple said.
“When things didn’t go our way the players kept their composure.
“The reason we entered the tournament was to showcase what we are doing in the Academy and it was really pleasing to see their development.”
While Dean will be remembered for his saves in the final penalty shoot out Temple said he had another top-class young goalkeeper in Alex Paulson.
“Alex made two outstanding saves in the semi-final so we are well served in that department.”
Drew 0-0 against Birkenhead Utd
Won 2-0 against Hamilton Wanderers (B Driehuis, J Lee)
Won 9-0 Ferrymead Bays (W Ebbinge, H Hamilton x 2, J Lee x 2, K Naicker, B Old, S Sutton)
Won 1-0 against Waitakere City (O van Hattum)
Won 5-0 v Coastal Spirit FC (B Driehus x 2, J Lee x 2, B Waine)
Quarter Final Won 3-2 over Eastern Suburbs (B Old x 2, B Waine)
Semi Final won 2-0 v Fencibles (B Waine x2)
Final 1-1 aet, won 4-1 on penalties.