Our final tournament of the year came quickly with Super APAC happening the week after our Spring Break. The trip to Shanghai went smoothly, but with delayed planes we were on the road considerably longer than expected. We arrived to SAS Puxi by 4.00pm on Wednesday where our athletes were met by their Homestay families and quickly went home to get a good night's sleep and prepare for the tournament ahead.
The first day of competition on Thursday saw us playing 2 games in our pool. The first game was against the hosts SAS Puxi. Both teams played well and created multiple opportunities and we were fortunate to get through with a point in a 0-0 draw. A massive thank you goes out to Isaac Christensen for a top-class performance in goal, making a series of saves that was crucial in our final group place.
The second game of the tournament, against Brent School Manilla, started after a long afternoon break. We managed to find our scoring touch, but at the same time exposed several weaknesses in organization and attitude that had challenged us as a team all season. The game finished in a comfortable win at 4-2, but we realized that that style of play would have to change drastically to be competitive as we moved deeper into the tournament. Goals were scored by a range of players including Tim Tegner, Joose Harju, CC Olsen and Sandy Olsen. Our athletes left the field reflective and some strong leadership and encouragement from our Captain, CC Olsen, via WeChat started raising heads and getting us prepared for the games to come.
The boys arrived to SAS Puxi this morning with a renewed focus and energy that was obvious. The team that showed up to the warm-up was a different team that played on the first day. It was good to see the mental focus and attitude changes being so visible. After an extended tactics talk from Yang Yang we began the game against Canadian Academy, Kobe. From the first touch, it was clear the boys were ready to play. Throughout the game, we showed support for each other, developing some of the most positive play of season. With top class games from every player on the pitch and a world class goal from Sandy Olsen in the 30th minute our boys settled into our style of patient possession passing that has worked so well for us in the past. The 2nd and 3rd goals came halfway through the 2nd half in quick succession, from CC Olsen and Ali Amantay. There were multiple opportunities throughout the game for more goals and outstanding performances from Richard Zhou, Charles Ma, Sweder Jacobs and Cam Grigg have put us in an excellent position for the Quarter Finals against SAS Pudong.
The second game today against SAS Pudong was our first taste of the knock-out stage. Nerves were apparent as we made mistakes that had not been made all season. A beautiful goal from Joose Harju, off a corner put us ahead in the first half and a second goal later in the game from our only Grade 9, Sweder Jacobs, put the game out of SAS's reach in the 55th minute. The boys recognized it was far from our best performance and it was encouraging to see them re-focusing and motivating themselves for the challenges to come.
The semi-finals saw us facing a very strong Hong Kong International School (HKIS) first thing in the morning on Saturday. They boys played very well, keeping focused and playing our style of football throughout much of the game. HKIS scored first through a fortunate deflection, however, the boys maintained their focus and continued to find scoring opportunities. The tying goal came in the Joose Harju, again from a corner set play that HKIS could not defend. The game remained close, with our strikers creating several opportunities to put us ahead. HKIS broke through in the 56th minute and capitalized on a rare mistake in marking. We continued to battle until the end of the game, but it was not our day to find the goal.
The loss in the semi-final kept us in position for some hardware later in the day in a game against Concordia International School (CISS). Concordia is a well-organized and talented team, but the loss in the semi-finals ignited a focus in our boys that they couldn't compete against. The game saw all 6 of our seniors start and play the majority of their final game for WAB. We had early goals from Cam Grigg and Sweder Jacobs, which put us in a comfortable position throughout the remainder of the game. The final goal of the season was fittingly scored by our Captain CC Olsen and put the game out of reach with a 3-1 final score.
It has been an honor to coach this team again and I would like to thank all the players for their commitment, patience and focus this season. Goodbye to all our seniors who have been a part of the program for so long, thank you for your leadership this year. And finally, to the returning players, I hope you have a good summer and return fit, focused and ready to re-take our APAC championship at home next year!