'A bit of magic': How young gun set up title-winning goal
THE magic goal that secured Western Pride its first state title was no fluke.
Amid the euphoric scenes in Ipswich on Saturday night, match-winning Dylan Wenzel-Halls shared how he calmly set up the free kick with the scores deadlocked at 1-1 and time running out.
"I just put it down and the boys just said 'take it like you do at training','' the skilful striker said.
"I've been practising them, hundreds a week.''
It was the 11th consecutive game Wenzel-Halls' scored for Pride. However, his latest goal was the most important, deservedly from a player named in this year's NPL Queensland team of the year.
"To score that for the team and the club, it just means so much to everyone,'' he said.
Wenzel-Halls had netted several top-class goals this season, often at key times in matches.
Saturday night's big pressure atmosphere provided an extra challenge after Moreton Bay equalised with only minutes remaining.
Wenzel-Halls sized up the situation perfectly after being awarded the late free kick just outside the goal box.
"The (Moreton Bay United) wall is very tall and I'm thinking 'can I get it up and over' but I just remembered what I did at training,'' he said.
His deft delivery applying all that hard work paid off. The ball flew into the top of the net, sparking the incredible celebration at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
"It's good to get 11 (games in a row) but it's just good to know every goal that I score is helping the team,'' he said.
Wenzel-Halls was buzzing he was able to contribute to Pride's success having missed the early part of the NPL season due to a knee injury.
"It was good to bounce back, not just score goals, but I think the biggest thing for me was to score consistently, to score weekly and doing my best for the team,'' the attacking weapon said.
"That's what I was working on and I didn't do bad.''
Pride's most capped player Joe Duckworth was a tower of satisfaction as he mingled with delighted teammates, friends and supporters.
"To come from winning 11 games in a row and then to top it off with that in front of this (the ecstatic fans) is just the best,'' the former Ipswich Grammar School student said.
"They (Moreton Bay United) were putting us under the pump and we managed to put the brakes on.
"They were a really, really good side and we knew what they had.
"They probably got a goal they maybe deserved and it took a bit of magic from Dylan (to win). He practises them at every training session.''
After collecting the NPL state champions trophy, Pride captain Jesse Rigby tried to sum up the emotion.
"I can't really put it into words,'' Rigby said.
"I've been there for a while now and just for Ipswich and for the Pride - from where it's come - it's just a great achievement for the club.
"It just shows the hard work that's going on behind the scenes and it's been put in on and off the field.
"It's really paid off and it's a great victory tonight.''
Rigby conceded it was a nerve-racking final few minutes.
"When they scored their first goal that tied it up, we were under the pump,'' the inspirational skipper said.
"They (Moreton Bay) really stuck it to us, so hats off to them. They are a great side and it took a free kick to deny them really.''
Pride goalkeeper Max Davison described the grand final victory as "unreal'' after keeping his team in the game with some terrific saves at crucial times.
"It was a beautiful feeling,'' he said, having played in 12 NPL games this season.
"It was a shame about that goal that went in but that's the game.''
Davison enjoyed playing a quality team like Moreton Bay United.
"It's good, especially because it keeps me in the game,'' the Daisy Hill-based footballer said.
"The (Pride) team has been a big help with me, to settle in and feel at home.
"It's my first year in the first team in the NPL.''
NPL Queensland grand final: Western Pride 2 (Cameron Crestani, Dylan Wenzel-Halls) def Moreton Bay United 1 (Alex Janovsky) at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.