“I’m not usually a player that does a skill beforehand,” Charlotte Roche (Year 12) giggles when pondering her favourite goal in the Canterbury Premier Girls’ First XI football final.
The striker scored a hat-trick as St Andrew’s College crushed Rangi Ruru Girls' School 5-0 to capture Sport Canterbury honours following two previous defeats in deciders.
“I was super grateful to have a game coming out of lockdown, especially a final. It was quite surprising how well we played because everyone’s fitness during lockdown went down,” Roche said
“It could have gone either way. Rangi played really well. We were lucky we got on top early otherwise we might have felt the pressure.”
Roche scored the first goal of the game, latching onto a brilliant pass, just outside the box, delivered from halfway.
“That was all Amelia McAllister. The credit’s all hers. We have been playing together since we were five years old and she’s super talented.
“My strengths are running on to through balls, speed, and I like one on one contests with the keeper.”
St Andrew’s had beaten Rangi Ruru 8-0 in the first game of 2021 but their opponents became battle-hardened in their first Premiership season for over a decade. Roche was weary of their threat.
“They improved massively throughout the season, holding Christchurch Girls’ High School to a draw and training hard to beat us in lockdown.
“We have gone into the last three finals winning most of our games and then the pressure has got to us. I think the enthusiasm of playing after lockdown helped.”
St Andrew’s led 3-0 at halftime and Roche applied the explanation mark with two second-half goals.
“There was one I scored where I did some skill and that was one I was really excited about. I’m just super grateful to have had a game. It’s really exciting.
“We lost the two previous finals to Burnside. They are a really good side and they were close games we could have won, but we let the occasion get the better of us.”
St Andrew’s won all nine Premier fixtures, outscoring opponents 41-7. Roche identified two goals she scored against Christchurch Girls’ High School as a highlight.
In 2019 she was named in the New Zealand Secondary Schools squad that was scheduled to tour the USA before the arrival of COVID-19. She has also been involved with the New Zealand Under-17 programme.
“That was awesome to go up against other players and experience a New Zealand set up.
“It's really exciting to be in football at the moment with the Phoenix joining the A-League. With the uncertainty of COVID it gives players something to aspire to. I think I’m a long way off that, but it’s going to be cool to watch all the other players.”
Roche has already competed against some of New Zealand’s elite senior talent. She plays her club football for Waimakariri United in the Mainland Premier League. The competition was won by Coastal Spirit who won all 15 matches and outscored opposition 117-6 making them one of the best teams in the country. Coach Juan Chang mentors St Andrew’s with support from Canterbury pride head Alana Gunn.
“I’m really lucky to have good coaches. Juan and Alana Gunn put so much time in and their record speaks for itself.”
Roche has ambitions to be a doctor but her desire to play football has only strengthened over lockdown. The next big event are national age group tournaments, dates yet to be confirmed in December.
Story by Adam Julian, for College Sport Media, September 2021.
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand