After successful outings at the Southern Branch Championships earlier this year, two Highlands teams got to test themselves on an even bigger stage.
The under-16 boys and girls sides competed in the NSW Country Cup over the long weekend.
And it was a great couple of days competition for the boys, who finished runners up.
Competing at Moruya, the boys lost just one of their four matches.
The Highlands team defeated Lachlan 2-1, then beat Southern Tablelands 3-1 and also had a 4-1 win against Wagga Wagga.
It was Dubbo that proved to be too strong for the boys and they went down in a close 1-0 match.
Jachin Brown, Ryan Haynes, Ryan Emmerick, Sam Andrews, Cooper McKeown and Austen Cribbin-Blencowe scored for the Highlands throughout the competition.
Team manager Doug Andrews said it was an excellent result for the side.
“They played awesome soccer and there were no flat spots in any of the game,” he said.
“For the team to be so young and to do so well was great. They all played so well.”
The girls did not enjoy the same success and did not finish with a win from their three matches.
Co-coach Jason Perinich said for most of the girls it was the first time they had experienced this level of competition and was impressed with the way they performed and improved.
Scheduled to play four matches, the girls only got three games in with one side pulling out of the competition the day before.
The Highlands lost 4-0 to Shoalhaven, 4-0 to Parkes and 2-0 to Dubbo.
“We look at it as coaches that if we don’t go and play these tournaments, you’re not going to improve,” Perinich said.
“They started combining a lot better towards the end [of the competition] and had some good positional play. The girls learnt so much in such a short time.
“By the end of the tournament they were playing much better and the girls enjoyed the harder competition. I think it was a bit of an eye opener.”
With some of the players just 13-years-old, Perinich said there was plenty of potential for the team in the future.
While there are no more scheduled tournaments, he said he hoped to continue a development program with the side for the rest of the year.