If the numbers game was anything to go by, the Woodford House first XI football team were supposed to be battling it out with another to avoid stirring the wood spoon.
But when the lumps of sod settled from the sprigs of their boots in the annual quadrangular tournament, the Fergus Neil-coached schoolgirls were crowned champions at the Iona College grounds across the road on Monday.
Sophie Svenson had captained Woodford House, against all odds, to glory. Favourites St Matthew's Collegiate School for Girls, of Wairarapa, had to settle for runners-up.
Woodford House came into the competition ranked seventh in the Hawke's Bay secondary schoolgirls' league out of eight teams.
Hosts Iona College, across the road, are second in the league and Woodford House were supposed to be battling it out for last place against Nga Tawa Diocesan School, of Marton.
"For us, we pride ourselves in our ability to defend as a collective. We knew there was no pressure on us to win because people just expect us to turn up to be beaten, probably," says Neil, a Thirsty Whale Napier City Rovers defender whose side are a round away from winning the Ultra Football Central League crown in a fortnight although he hasn't played this winter because of injury.
"We kind of used that to fuel us so we had a lot of desire to work hard for each other and defend well."
Woodford House pipped Iona 1-0 on Sunday with Tessa Burns finding the net late in the game.
On Monday morning, Neil's side clawed their way back to register a 2-1 victory over St Matthew's Collegiate before shutting another Anglican schoolgirls side, Nga Tawa, 3-0, in the afternoon when rain took hold in the province.
Rachel McDougall was the two-goal hero against St Matthew's Collegiate.
Neil, who found himself at the helm of the Woodford House first XI last year as his first team experience as a mentor, said there was definitely a sense of self-belief among his girls but also an awareness of the rivalry across the road from Iona College in the village.
"The girls really got up for that first game and once we realised we could make a good game of it the girls made a huge commitment."
Woodford House go by the edict of "we die in the box" when putting up the shutters at the height of the storm on the park and that paid off immensely.
"That means we're desperate and we'll do anything to defend for each other."
Centreback Svenson's defenders created the opportunities for their foragers to score from counterattacks.
Pivotal to that steely defence was the arrival of German exchange pupil Ricarda Kurth, of Dusseldorf, a fortnight ago for the rest of the school year.
"We're pretty lucky to have her as a goalkeeper. She was outstanding."
The quadrangular victory has ignited the Bay secondary schoolgirls' league with Woodford House hosting Iona College in a 4pm kick off today.
"That'll make for an interesting game," says Neil with a chuckle.
With year 13 pupils comprising 50 per cent of the team, he is bracing himself to rebuild from next year.
Neil had knee surgery in February and is recovering well but isn't sure what is in store for him in the ISPS Handa Premiership (national summer league) just yet.
The schools also competed in hockey and netball.
Woodford House netballers also all their three encounters to help the school claim the overall winners title.
They beat Iona 30-28, St Matthew's 33-22 and Nga Tawa 22-17.
The Woodford House hockey team slumped 6-1 to Iona, lost 2-1 to St Matthew's but pipped Nga Tawa 3-2.