A long season of hard-work and dedication paid off for the Baradene First XI on Saturday, winning the NZSS Girls Premier Lotto tournament in Taupo.
Second in the Auckland Provincial Championship, Baradene went one better in Taupo, beating Hamilton Girls’ High School 3-1 in the final to claim the school’s maiden NZSS Premier title.
“When the final whistle blew in the final, the girls were just ecstatic,” said team manager Bernadette Goulding. “This was the first time Baradene had been in a national final and to win it for the first time was special for the players and everyone involved.”
What set Baradene apart from the other 31 teams at Taupo?
“We have a star team, not a team of stars,” said Bernadette. “Hannah Pilley had a great tournament, getting our MVP and winning the tournament Golden Boot [joint with Natalie Ohlson from WEGC], while year 10 player Prue Catton and year 11 Petra Buyck and year 13 Olivia Gordon were three other consistent players for us all week. But overall all the girls played out of their skins and played well together.”
Victory for Baradene over Hamilton was also sweeter as they had lost to them 3-2 on the opening afternoon of the tournament.
“Things just weren’t going right for us that game, we had the majority of the chances and they had three chances and scored off all of them. It was also 2-2 up until the last minute when Hamilton scored the winner.”
This meant they finished second in Pool D, also beating Nelson Girls’ College 5-0 and Hutt Valley High School 4-0 in pool play.
In the round of 16 they beat Pool H winners New Plymouth Girls’ High School 2-1 to advance to the quarter-finals, where they would beat Wellington’s St Mary’s College 6-2 after being 1-0 down virtually from the opening kick-off and then 4-1 up at halftime.
“The quarter-final win was probably our best game, everything went well and worked for us.”
Then on to the semi-final.
“We played Palmerston Norths Girls’ High School, who were very strong and unlucky to not make the final.
Baradene won the semi-final 4-1, but this didn’t reflect the game. “On the day they played the better football. We had five or six chances and we scored off four of them.”
“It showed the quality of our team though, we weren’t playing as well as we did in the quarter-final but we were still able to put away our chances.”
Hamilton Girls’ High School beat Epsom Girls’ Grammar School in a penalty shootout in the other semi-final.
The final itself was played in a strong wind, which was a factor in how it played out.
Baradene played against the wind in the first half, and went up 1-0 through a goal to playmaking year 10 player Prue Catton. Hamilton equalised and it was all square.
“Hamilton scored about 10 minutes before halftime, so the coaches were thinking at that point that we just need to get through to halftime and we would be okay because we will have the wind next. We were literally holding on, but we got through.”
Hannah Pilley was the tournament’s Golden Boot with nine goals overall, but few were more important than the one she scored early in the second half latching on to a Petra Buyck cross that put Baradene up 2-1.
“That is when we started to look stronger. With 10 minutes to go our substitute Charlotte Gordon found herself in space and slotted the winner.”
Baradene’s win was the first by their school, but maintains a grip on the title by Auckland schools. Saint Kentigern College won last year and before that Mount Albert Grammar School won a four-peat between 2013-16.
In the Auckland competition, Baradene came third in the first part of the season, and then in the Auckland Provincial Championship (APC) they reached the final against St Kent’s.
“We had an excellent game in the APC final. It was 2-2 at fulltime. It went into extra time and it was still 2-2, but they won on a penalty shootout.”
Just three players are school leavers in 2018, so the immediate future of Baradene appears promising.
After a long season playing for school, club and in some cases representative teams, most players are having a break now from playing as school and mock exams take precedence this week. Many players also play futsal so that will be coming up next for them.
Meanwhile, recent Auckland winners and defending NZSS champions St Kent’s could only finish ninth in Taupo, while MAGS were 25th overall.
Epsom Girls’ Grammar School, who came third in Auckland, also came third in Taupo by beating Palmerston North GHS 2-1 in the 3 v 4 match.
The leading South Island school was Burnside High School who finished fifth, one place ahead of St Andrew’s College who they beat 5-4 in the 5 v 6 match.
Westlake Girls’ High School won the Trevor Osten Memorial Trophy for winning the 17-32 knockout rounds. Westlake GHS beat Sacred Heart College, New Plymouth, 1-0 in the final.
The Baradene College NZSS winning team was:
Coach: Ryan Shiffman
Manager: Bernadette Goulding
Coordinator: Rachel Buyck
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