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Central Otago defied the odds to make it all the way to the final of the Collier Trophy — the premier under-13 girls tournament in the country.
Canterbury won Saturday’s final thanks to two first half goals. But just reaching the final was a heroic effort for an area like Central Otago.
The region enjoys a proud history in the sport and upset the home team Auckland 2-1 in the semifinal.
Auckland had scored late to force the game into extra time but Samantha Fookes got the winner in the 57th minute.
"I’m pretty sure that Central has not placed higher than seven in the history of the tournament, so it was amazing" Central Otago coach Geraldine Duncan said.
"Last year we placed ninth which was a huge achievement. But this year we are second."
Winger Natalia Geneblaza was the leading scorer for Central Otago with four goals, while centre half and captain Briar Duncan was named in the tournament team.
Goalie Hannah Lithgow was "outstanding and she loves a challenge". Striker Billie Crowe made some delightful touches up front and Hannah Cormack was another who enhanced her reputation.
Otago had a decent tournament as well but had to settle for sixth place after it was beaten 4-0 by Northland.
The region’s under-13 boys teams did not fare nearly as well in the Hatch Cup, which was staged in Nelson.
Otago finished a distant 17th, with Central Otago in 19th place and Southland placing 14th.