Northcote City’s Under 14s have become the second junior side at the club to win the NPL East title this season.
It was an extremely successful 2015 campaign for a team that grew and improved together in many facets of the game in order to claim the title.
Northcote finished one point below top spot, but that was occupied by Football Federation Victoria’s Skilleroos side who are ineligible across the junior competitions.
Coach Andrew Kenta was thrilled with the change and success he oversaw throughout the season.
“At the start of the year we had a bunch of boys that were individually very creative,” he said.
“The objective was always to try and get them to work more as a team and put all of the individual qualities together. As the year has progressed we got better at that and we saw the success of that later in the year.”
Northcote matched creativity with solidarity, conceding fewer goals than any other side in the competition.
“The biggest thing was to get organised as a team both going forward and defending and we were really big on being the most organised team when we were defending,” Kenta said.
“I think we achieved that. Most teams will say that we were very difficult to break down and we didn’t concede many cheap goals.”
Winning the NPL East title pitted Northcote against NPL West premiers Hume City in the Grand Final on Sunday, a match which ended in a narrow 1-0 loss for the boys in blue.
“I thought the boys played very well. The opposition were very tough physically and we’ve got a small, technical team,” Kenta said.
“We had to move the ball very quickly to counteract that and I was happy with the performance.”
Team captain George Stamboulidis echoed his coach’s sentiments with regards to the loss.
“It was a very even game and credit to the boys for playing so well under such conditions against a good opponent,” he said.
“We stuck to our game plan and did the best we could, but unfortunately didn’t come out with the win.”
Stamboulidis was a pivotal member of the team and certainly noticed the transformation that took place amongst himself and his teammates.
“First of all we believed in our coach. When the relationship with our teammates and the coach grew we started to think more and play more as a team,” he said.
“Overcoming certain obstacles was key. We lost twice to Skilleroos and overcoming those obstacles is hard to master.”
“Playing out from the back wasn’t our biggest strength so we needed to fix that up but we did do it to a certain extent which helped us against the better teams and was one of the things that set us apart.”