Teenage Wellington defender Liberato Cacace says his first A-League goal arrived in a game that was was reminiscent of his days playing soccer in the school yard.
The 18-year-old ended his goal duck as the Phoenix humiliated their hosts Central Coast 8-3 on Saturday - which led to the axing of Mariners coach Mike Mulvey and the appointment of Alen Stajcic as caretaker boss on Tuesday.
Cacace said he hadn't witnessed such a scoreline since since his school days.
"Maybe seventh grade back when I was playing for Island Bay," he told reporters on Tuesday.
"It was quite astonishing playing on that pitch when it was seven nil."
The Phoenix went into the Mariners match in sixth place and with Newcastle breathing down their necks after just one win in their previous seven matches.
But the away drubbing lifted Mark Rudan's side to fourth with six rounds of the regular season to play.
And Cacace is confident the Phoenix can retain their lofty position.
""I think we've just got to have the mindset, be able to go there, get another three points, it's ours to lose there," he said, before they host Western Sydneyon Sunday.
Phoenix have leapfrogged Melbourne City and Adelaide United but Cacace said the playing group has sights firmly set higher.
"I think, as Melbourne Victory are ahead of us, we can catch them; there's six games to go. We're always looking up ahead instead of behind us," he said.
Australian Associated Press