Another big year for school and age-grade representative hockey for New Zealand’s leading school players.
Three boys and three girls from around the country that have caught our eye this year are below.
Vote in our poll that follows for your favourite player.
Adam Alovili (Saint Kentigern College) - The co-captain of the First XI really showed his poise and quality when it most counted. In the semi-final of the Rankin Cup he scored the only goal as St Kent’s advanced to the decider against reigning champions Christ’s College. In a tight decider, a telling burst of pace by Alovili set up the winning goal for St Kent’s who became National Champions for the first time. Alovili was particularly damaging from drag flicks scoring four of his five goals in the tournament with this skill. In addition to Rankin success, Alovili led St Kent’s to the Auckland Super City title and was selected in the Pathway to Podium Black Sticks squad. Alovili is a nomination for the College Sport Auckland Hockey Player of the Year.
Sara Cooper (Wellington Girls’ College) - The Wellington Girls’ captain was the only school-aged player picked in the initial Capital squad for the NHL tournament in September. The attacking midfielder guided Wellington Girls’ to runners-up in the Wellington Premiership and to the Jenny Hair Cup Nationals, effectively a promotion to the top echelon of First XI hockey. The New Zealand Under-18 development squad member was named College Sport Wellington Hockey Player of the Year.
Tom Nicholls (New Plymouth Boys’ High School) - New Plymouth Boys’ High School enjoyed one of their best ever seasons winning the Super 8 title for the first time and finishing 14th at the Rankin Cup having been in the third division at nationals two years ago. Nicholls proved to be an inspirational leader earning selection for the New Zealand Under-18 squad. In the Super 8 final New Plymouth toppled Hamilton Boys’ High School who were third at Rankin. The game went into extra time and saw each side reduced to nine players, including no goalkeeper.
Olivia Shannon (Iona College) - It was a massive season for the sharp shooting Year 12. Shannon scored a hat-trick in the Federation Cup final as Iona College won the National title for the first time. Iona earned their place at Nationals by cleaning up the Hawke’s Bay competition, outscoring opponents 88-8. At Nationals Shannon put the ball into the back of the net a tournament leading 16 times as Iona’s superiority was rarely challenged. Shannon has been a member of the Central Districts senior side and was selected for the New Zealand U21 training squad. In November she was named in the 2019 Black Sticks squad and is set to join the squad in Auckland after NCEA Level 2 exam commitments.
Charl Ulrich (Westlake Boys’ High School) - The Year 13 from Westlake Boys’ High School was the leading goal scorer at the Rankin Cup with 20 goals - eight ahead of Luca Berry from Napier Boys’ High School. He scored seven in the first game against Pukekohe High School, five against 2016 winners St Paul’s Collegiate and only once failed to find the back of the net in the tourney. Ulrich was a member of the North Harbour squad who won the National Senior League in Wellington. In the final North Harbour thrashed Canterbury 3-0.
Sophie White (Christchurch Girls’ High School) - The Canterbury age group representative was an inspirational skipper for the giant killing Girls’ High First XI who beat both Federation Cup finalists from 2017 this year. White’s most memorable performance was in the quarter final of the Federation Cup where she scored the winning goal against last year's champions St Cuthbert’s. Christchurch would go onto finish third. White reached the milestone of 100 games for her school and in October was acknowledged at the Zonta Awards as the Canterbury Secondary Schools’ Hockey Player of the Year.
2017: Louis Beckert (Christ’s College)
2016: Gus Wakeling (Wairarapa College) & Bella Greig (Iona College)
The Champion of Champion series is not intended to be a definitive list of the ‘best’ athletes in each code, rather it celebrates many of the leading athletes and teams in each that College Sport Media has followed this year. Preference has gone to those individuals/teams that CSM has interviewed and profiled in 2018. Got a story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
“I haven't had a tournament like it before. I felt relaxed and everything went my way,” Charl Ulrich reflects on his feats at the Rankin Cup hockey tournament.
The Year 13 from Westlake Boys’ High School was the leading goal scorer with 20 goals at the annual National Secondary Schools tourney - eight ahead of Luca Berry from Napier Boys’ High School.
Ulrich scored half of his goals from penalty corners and the remainder from the field where he typically plays defense, but has shown he’s equally adept in central midfield.
“I try to be a good all-round player, but my preference is defense. I play in the midfield at school because being a senior player it’s important for me to have the ball a bit more,” Ulrich explains.
In Westlake’s first Rankin match against Pukekohe High School, Ulrich smacked the ball into the back of the net seven times. He scored twice against Rotorua Boys’ High School and once more against Palmerston North Boys’ High School as Westlake topped their group by scoring 22 unanswered goals, more than any other school.
Unfortunately Westlake would unravel in the quarter final against Hamilton Boys’ High School, losing 0-3.
“We were expecting to do better overall, but we had a bad game against Hamilton Boys’ on Wednesday. I think we were a bit complacent heading into it because we’d had some easy wins. We lacked our usual energy,” Ulrich morns.
Westlake and Ulrich bounced back strongly the following day to thrash St Paul’s Collegiate 8-0 in the first of three consolation fixtures. Ulrich bagged five goals, but his best was yet to come.
Ulrich was on target twice against Wellington College and identifies a finnish in that encounter as the best goal he scored all week.
“They were ahead for the only time in the game. I found the ball in the circle and knew we needed to hit back. I struck a reverse stick and managed to score. We finished strongly to win the game 5-4,” Ulrich recalls.
Ulrich concluded his dream run by bagging a hat-trick in a 6-4 win over St Andrew’s College. Westlake finished ninth, but only dropped one game and scored 41 goals.
The tournament was won by St Kentigern College.
“Last year they won India. This year they went one better and won the Rankin. They’ve kept the same squad together and have been building for some time now. I think that's their main strength,” Ulrich said.
Ulrich was born in Cape Town, South Africa before shifting to Pretoria and finally migrating to New Zealand in 2011. His mother is a primary school teacher and Dad is a manager for Tiger Turf.
Last week, Ulrich was a member of the North Harbour squad who won the National Senior League in Wellington. In the final North Harbour thrashed Canterbury 3-0.
In 2019, Ulrich intends to study business and health science at Massey University, Auckland. He will attend the New Zealand Under-18 camp in December and hopes to make the North Harbour Under-21s.
Striker Oliva Shannon was the individual standout, but Iona College’s Federation Cup hockey tournament win was very much a team effort explains captain Arabella Sheild on the team’s return to school this week.
“We have a well-balanced team and we get on well and know each other’s games,” says captain Arabella. “We have three year 9s this year, no year 10s, four year 11s, three year 12s and five year 13s.”
Iona College returned home to Havelock North on Sunday morning with their maiden Federation Cup title, after beating Hawke’s Bay rivals Napier Girls’ High School 4-0 in the final in Whangarei the previous afternoon.
Year 12 striker Olivia Shannon was the tournament’s leading goal-scorer with 16 goals in seven matches.
“She is very good at finishing off, she is powerful and very good at creating something out of nothing and she scored some pretty incredible goals!”
The start of the final itself was slow, as both teams worked themselves into the occasion at the end of a long week of super-competitive week of hockey. “It was a big week and fatigue set in for both teams. It was pretty hard-fought despite the scoreline.”
The two teams also knew each other well. “We played them previously this year in two warm-up games, and in a few competition games, so this was our seventh or eighth game against Napier.”
Iona had previously beaten Napier Girls’ 3-2 on 23 August in the final of the Hawke’s Bay Division 1 Secondary Schools competition. In the 12-match competition, Iona were unbeaten scoring 88 goals and conceding eight.
Plus many have been teammates in Hawke’s Bay and Central representative hockey for the past few years.
“I think it came down to who wanted it more and who had the last legs at the end of the tournament.
“For us year 13s that final was by far the best game to wear the school shirt for the last time.”
Bella Greig opened up the goal scoring in the final in the 20th minute by slotting one past the keeper from the penalty spot mark. This goal put Iona up 1-0, before a second just before the break off a penalty corner by Olivia Shannon saw them take a 2-0 lead into halftime.
Iona had beaten Christchurch Girls’ High School 2-1 in Friday’s semi-final. “That was probably the most challenging game all week. Christchurch Girls’ were a bit unlucky, whereas we were able to capitalise on our opportunities.
Napier Girls’ beat Canterbury’s Villa Maria College 2-1 in the other semi-final, an extra time goal by Lily Verhoeven sealing victory. CGHS went on to beat Villa Maria College in a shootout in the bronze medal match.
Iona beat another Canterbury school, St Margaret’s College, in their quarter-final. Again, Olivia scored a hat-trick in a comfortable 5-1 win on the scoreboard. “We didn’t know what to expect and it took a while to get into that game and to get ahead [1-0 at halftime]. Then them taking their keeper off at the end of the game we managed to slot a couple more late goals.”
In pool play at the start of the week, Iona had wins over Sacred Heart College, Hamilton (4-2), Saint Kentigern College (3-0) and Hamilton Girls’ High School (3-2).
This secured them top qualifier from their pool and safely into the top 16 to contest the Federation Cup, and a meeting with perennial contenders Auckland Diocesan on ‘Must Win Wednesday’ for a place in the top 8. The win over Dio was convincing (7-2), with Olivia scoring four goals including a second half hat-trick.
Last year’s winners St Cuthbert’s College and runners-up Rangi Ruru Girls’ School contested the 5 v 6 match, with Rangi Ruru winning 3-1.
Three players involved in the final - Arabella and Olivia from Iona and Kaitlin Cotter from Napier Girls’ - played for the Central Districts senior side in their opening NHL tournament match against Capital on Sunday.
It was straight to the turf for the trio who played their eighth match in seven days and helped Central to a 4-0 win. Kaitlin (three) and Olivia (one) scored all the goals.
It is now back to school this for these players, before heading to Wellington at the end of this week to play the rest of the NHL tournament.
Four Iona players played for the Central team in the July school holidays that won the National U18 provincial title. These players were Arabella, Olivia, Lexie Heaphy and Denby-Rose Tait.
Some of Iona’s players have also been playing club hockey all winter. “We are quite spread out there, so it is good to play against each other,” says Arabella.
Coming up there is a Hawke’s Bay invitational U18 team – Queensland challenge.
From 8-12 October there is a New Zealand U21 women’s selection camp, being held in the Hawke’s Bay. Kaitlin and Olivia have been selected in the 31-stong group for this.
As well as hockey, several of Iona’s Federation Cup hockey players also play other sports such as tennis, equestrian, swimming and athletics. Plus one player who has just switched from football to hockey.
Iona College’s winning 2018 Federation Cup team was:
Sophie Campbell, Bella Grieg, Nika Hansen, Lexie Heaphy, Kayla Limbrick, Gabby Luscombe, Harriet Lynch, Olivia Kirkpatrick, Jamie Mactaggart, Grace Nancarrow, Olivia Shannon, Arabella Sheild, Kayla Smith, Brenna Tait, Denby-Rose Tait, Pippa Wyllie.
Federation Cup – last five winners:
2018: Iona College
2017: St Cuthbert's College
2016: Villa Maria College
2015: Rangi Ruru School
2014: Wairarapa College
All roads head north to Whangarei next week where the country’s leading girls hockey schools contest the Federation Cup and Marie Fry Trophy tournament.
But will a southern team win this year’s Premier secondary school tournament?
Last year, Auckland’s St Cuthbert’s College won the Federation Cup, with Christchurch schools finishing second, third and fourth.
St Cuthbert’s appear to be the team to beat after just winning the Auckland Supercity competition for the third straight year.
St Cuthbert’s backed up their feats last year by completing a winning Super City campaign, beating Orewa College 6-0 in the final. By the close of round-robin play they had scored 42 goals and conceded just six in seven matches.
Auckland Diocesan finished second in the round-robin but were beaten by third placed Orewa (fifth in Auckland last year) in their semi-final and then Dio edged Westlake Girls’ High School in a penalty shootout in their 3rd v 4th match.
Orewa College were beaten finalists (to Sacred Heart, Hamilton) in the tier 3 Chica Gilmer Trophy national tournament last year, While third placed Kamo High School also have a berth in this year’s Federation Cup from that tournament.
Dio will be joined in pool B by last year’s fourth placed finisher Villa Maria from Christchurch, Tauranga Girls’ College and Timaru Girls’ College.
King’s College (16th in Federation Cup last year), Saint Kentigern College (21st overall) and Kristin School (22nd) are the other Auckland/North Harbour schools at this year’s tournament in Whangarei.
Five of the top six Christchurch First XIs will be attending this year’s top tier tournament, headed by St Margaret’s College who made it fourth time lucky on Friday night in winning this year’s competition last Friday night.
Beaten Canterbury finalists from each of the past three years, St Margaret’s defeated Christchurch Girls’ High School 2-1 in the decider and go into this year’s Federation Cup as 2017 bronze medallists.
Fourth placed qualifier Christchurch Girls had upset last year’s defending champions Rangi Ruru in their semi-final. Rangi Ruru were unbeaten through 10 round-robin matches and defended the girls Connectics Challenge Shield.
Christchurch Girls’ High School return to the top 32 tournament after being beaten finalists last year by Waikato Diocesan in the bottom 16 Marie Fry section. St Andrew’s College and Villa Maria are the other Christchurch schools at Federation Cup.
Local Hawke’s Bay team Iona College were the highest finishing non Auckland or Canterbury school last year, beating this year’s home school Whangarei Girls’ High School in the fifth v sixth playoff. Iona are joined by Havelock North High School and Napier Girls’ High School. Central won the U18 national tournament in Dunedin in July so expect all three to be pushing hard.
Palmerston North Girls’ High School were seventh last year and fly the flag for the Manawatu schools, while New Plymouth Girls’ High School and Sacred Heart College make the trip north from Taranaki.
In Waikato, Sacred Heart, Hamilton and Tauranga Girls’ College meet in the Girls Division 1 final on Wednesday.
These schools are joined by Waikato Dio, Hamilton GHS and Hillcrest High School from Hamilton and BoP’s Bethlehem and Otumoetai Colleges.
What of the Wellington schools? Their best chance could rest on Masterton’s St Matthews’s Collegiate (10th last year) who retained their regional title on Friday night with a 1-0 win over top qualifier Wellington Girls’ College. Gutsy defence won the day against Wellington Girls’ who will be attempting to win the tier 3 Jenny Hair Cup in Carterton this year.
Queen Margaret College and Wairarapa College are the only other two Wellington competition First XI schools playing in this year’s Federation Cup.
In Dunedin, Columba College head to the far north for the Federation Cup as beaten Otago Secondary Schools finalists, having lost 2-1 to Dunedin rivals St Hilda’s Collegiate in their decider last week. Columba made the Federation Cup top 16 last year.
Pools and teams below:
With it being less than a week out before the best 32 boys secondary school teams converge on Mt Maunganui to contest the India Shield and Rankin Cup, several teams are coming into form at just the right time.
This year there are just two unbeaten teams going into winter tournament week, Auckland’s Saint Kentigern College and Kings High School from Dunedin. Last year there were also two undefeated teams after secondary school finals week, Christ’s College who went on to win Rankin Cup and Kings High who placed 10th.
Several other teams have performed consistently well this season only dropping one or two games along the way in their quest to win their local competition. Paraparaumu College, Hamilton Boys’ High School, St Andrews and New Plymouth Boys’ High School fall into this category.
Both Paraparaumu and St Andrews took out their respective finals last Friday night after being beaten finalists last year, so they come into tournament week on the back of winning form.
New Plymouth, who were promoted after winning their tier 3 tournament last year, have achieved impressive results this season. They won the New Plymouth men’s open grade title and defeated Hamilton Boys 2-1 to take out Super 8. Their only loss was 2-1 to Wellington College in a Traditional which was played in July.
Coincidentally Wellington placed third in the Wellington Competition behind Paraparaumu and Rongotai College who played their final last Friday night with Paraparaumu winning an exciting encounter 3-2 in golden goal extra time.
Last year Paraparaumu placed 5th, Hamilton 6th, St Andrews 7th, Kings High 10th and St Kentigern 17th.
The Auckland Super City final was contested last Wednesday night between Westlake Boys’ High School and Saint Kentigern College who were both undefeated going into the final. St Kentigern took the honours in a keenly contested and even affair 1-0 with the winning goal being scored in the last minute of regulation time. With this win St Kentigern must be considered one of the favourites particularly as they won India Shield last year and are unbeaten since. What gives further credence to their claim is they return to Mt Maunganui with their squad fully intact.
It should be noted that although Westlake lost the Supercity final they did attend a quad in Christchurch last month where they defeated St Andrews by a solitary goal, and up until that stage had also been undefeated. St Andrews then went on to win the Canterbury Secondary Schools title last Friday night, 6-4 on penalty shootouts after it was 2-2 at full time.
Although Whangarei Boys, Palmerston North Boys and Tauranga Boys play in their men’s competition with Tauranga playing their last round in the Midlands Supercity secondary competition, their form has been mixed.
Last month after the Regional U18 Tournament in Dunedin, which was won by Capital over Auckland, 30 field players and six goalies were named as part of the U18 New Zealand Talent Identification Squad.
Interestingly, with the exception of Paraparaumu who placed 5th last year all of the top contenders for Rankin have one or more players named in the squad of 36, with Kings High and Whangarei both having three. Westlake, St Kentigern, St Andrews, Rosmini, Pukekohe and Napier each have two.
In addition to those named in the U18 Talent Squad of 36, further identification will take place at the upcoming Aon Secondary Schools Tournaments around the country from the 3rd - 7th September 2018 (see below).
“It was a bit lucky. The ball got loose and Branden Russ managed to get a stick on it and nudge it in,” Tom Nicholls recalls of how the winning goal was scored in the Super 8 hockey final.
The New Plymouth Boys’ High School co-captain might be a touch modest in capturing the gravity of ‘Russty’s’ strike.
In extra time and with each side reduced to nine players, including no goalkeeper, New Plymouth managed a pivotal play which won them the Super 8 title for the first time since the inception of the tournament in 1997.
The Super 8 is one of the leading hockey tourneys in New Zealand. Last year, Palmerston North BHS (3), Hamilton BHS (6) and Tauranga BC (8) were all in the top eight at Rankin Cup Nationals.
Two years ago in Super 8, New Plymouth were seventh and last year won the Mayhill Cup. What is the Mayhill Cup?
“The Mayhill Cup is one of the third tier Nationals,” Nicholls answers.
“Our goal was to win it and we did beating Rotorua Boys’ (another Super 8 side) in the final. We felt we were good enough to be a Rankin Cup side last year. We actually got beaten in the final of Super 8 by Hamilton Boys,” Nicholls expanded.
New Plymouth only lost one player last season and the benefits of retaining a familiar squad were best illustrated on a development tour to Malaysia earlier this year.
Monte Burmester is Nicholls co-captain and explains the background to the trip.
“It was about three years in the making and cost us $3500 each. We did a lot of fundraising like quiz nights, wool shed cleanings and anything we could do really. It was a great way to bond,” Burmester reveals.
New Plymouth played six games in 12 days, in mostly oppressive heat, earning three draws and a victory.
“The standard of hockey was really good. The Malaysians play quiet a fast and skillful game. I learned a lot,” Burmester enthused.
New Plymouth set a high standard in pool play at Super 8 conceding just a solitary goal en-route to the semi-final where Napier BHS awaited.
Napier, boasting Lucca Burley, the tournament’s leading goal scorer with 11 goals presented a tough challenge.
“Napier were a good side, them and Hastings actually as well as Palmerston North. We had to produce our best to beat them both,” Nicholls said.
In the final, New Plymouth seized an early lead, but an even tussle saw Hamilton equalise. The balance and experience of the New Plymouth team ultimately proved telling. Nicholls was recently selected for a New Zealand Under-18 squad while Ryan Gilmour, Graydon Scott and Branden Russ each scored four goals while Michael Spurdle scored three, illustrating the all-round attacking threat of New Plymouth.
New Plymouth is being coached by Jamie Stones, who is the Hockey Development Officer for the school and a PE teacher. Jamie has been at the school for the last four years, after returning from studying at the University of Waikato and working for Sport Waikato. He has been involved in coaching age group Central sides over the last few years. David Stones (Jamie's dad), assists along with Black Stick Ben Collier.
How far can the NPBHS go in the Rankin Cup?
“We're not getting too far ahead of ourselves. We're just taking things one game at a time,” Burmester warned.
New Plymouth Super 8 Results
Pool Play: Hastings BHS, 2-0
Pool Play: Rotorua BHS, 10-0
Pool Play: Palmerston North BHS, 3-1
Semi-Final: Napier BHS, 4-3
Grand Final: Hamilton BHS, 2-1
“We seemed to play our best hockey when we were put under pressure. Our ability to retaliate was an important part of our success,” Sajan Patel responds when asked what was the single biggest reason why Capital won the National Under-18 hockey tournament in Dunedin last week.
Capital bombed at the same tourney last year and their promising 2018 campaign threatened to derail after a 1-2 loss to Auckland.
“That was a wakeup call for us,” Patel concedes.
“It showed us we weren't invincible and had to stay switched on the whole time,” he said.
Wellington emerged from group play unbeaten. Canterbury was identified as the biggest threat, but it was Southern who proved to be the trickiest challenge.
“Canterbury had a lot of Rankin Cup winners in their team, but they'd lost to Southern twice in the lead up. We were down 3-1 against Southern and managed to tie it up at fulltime which meant the game went to a shootout. I'd never taken a penalty in a competitive game before, but I was happy to step up and score,” Patel reflects.
Wellington prevailed 4-2 in the shootout, before making a hot start against Canterbury netting the first five goals.
“It was pretty special to get up 5-0 against Canterbury. Callum Olsen scored four goals and was pretty much unstoppable from penalty corners,” Patel acclaims.
A Max Darling hat-trick pegged the final scoreline back to 6-4, but the threat of Hutt United’s Olsen was ever constant. In the semi-final against North Harbour, Olsen broke a 1-1 stalemate with two minutes remaining.
Captain Isaac Dyer was another pivotal figure.
“Isaac is not the most talkative guy, but when he says something it counts. He is a real workhorse and before the final against Auckland he gave us a real good prep talk which set the tone,” Patel marvels.
Wellington thrashed Auckland 3-0 in the decider. Olsen scored twice to complete the tourney with ten goals and the tournament MVP award.
Jamal Crawford-Spellacey was also on range in the crushing victory. Patel only scored once against Midlands, but it was on his birthday. The sports captain at Rongotai College is hopeful of keeping his First XI on top of the Wellington table in the third term.
North Harbour, 2-1
The female U18 tournament was won by Central who defeated Canterbury 4-1 in a shootout in the final after scores were tied 2-2 at the end of regulation time.
Anna Crowley was the captain of Central and Olivia Shannon the top scorer with ten.
Central Women scores
Auckland, 2-2 (Central won 3-1 in a shootout)
North Harbour, 3-1
Canterbury, 2-2 (Central won 4-1 in a shootout)
Sajan Patel was in the New Zealand Under-18 hockey team last year. He is the sports prefect and First XI captain at Rongotai College and has trained in the same gym as Olympic rowing champion Hamish Bond.
“It’s pretty surreal when I think about the opportunities I have if I work hard. Hamish Bond was at my gym,” Patel enthuses.
Patel is a member of the newly established Capital Hockey Regional Performance Centre (RPC) programme for the most talented 16 to 21 year old’s nationwide. One of the few school-aged athletes involved, Patel is working under the tutelage of Black Stick and Commonwealth Games silver medalist Dane Lett – Capital Hockey’s high-performance manager.
“It’s pretty intense. We train four times a week in addition to workshops and games, but I’m growing all the time,” Patel reveals.
Patel dabbled in football and rugby as a youngster but inevitably switched to hockey given his family lineage in the sport (mum and dad played). Patel is a striker, but plays in the midfield at Rongotai.
“We don’t have as much depth as some other schools so I play in the midfield for the First XI. As a senior player I’m in a position where I get the ball more and try to lead by example,” Patel explains.
Rongotai finished in the bottom four of the Wellington Premier competition last season but enjoyed a late resurgence making the Founders Cup final, thus confirming their place in the Rankin/India Cup Nationals in 2018.
“Our performances in Wellington were a bit disappointing, but we played well at the Founders Cup, beating HIBS (Hutt International Boys’ School) in the semi-finals and losing to a pretty handy Taupo Nui a Tia College side in the final. It was a good way to finish the season,” Patel reflects.
Patel scored four goals in six games in the Founders Cup and his diligence and fierce shot caught the eye of representative selectors. Patel (who also plays senior club hockey for Naenae) is hopeful Rongotai will perform better local fixtures in 2018.
“We’ve got a good bunch of boys with two Wellington Under-18 reps and a few 15’s and 16’s reps. I think we can be in the top four,” he says.
Patel identifies local Black Stick Stephen Jenness as his favourite player. Sara Cooper (Wellington Girls’ College) is the only other Wellington player involved in the RPC.
Following grading rounds, the Premier 1 secondary school competition gets underway at the NHC next Friday.
The 2018 school hockey season is two weeks old, and Wellington Girls’ College has so far had two good grading competition wins to seal their spot in the Premier 1 competition.
WGC has beaten St Mary’s College (4-0) and Wellington East Girls’ College (4-1) but an early season test for them is this coming Friday, ahead of the competition proper starting on 25 May.
“We have got two wins under the belt, but this Friday we play Queen Margaret College who are probably our biggest rival,” says WGC captain Sara Cooper.
“They have always been strong and we don’t beat them very often,” Sara says. “Last year they were in the final against [winners] St Matthew’s, so they are always tough.”
Sara, who is mainly a midfielder and sometimes at striker, has been in the WGC First XI since year 10 so is starting her fourth season in the team.
Last year WGC came third in Premier 1 behind St Matthew’s Collegiate and QMC before competing in the Jenny Hair national tournament in Palmerston North, two tiers below the tier 1 Federation Cup.
“So we wanted to finish inside the top two to make the Federation Cup. We made the quarter-finals and went to shootouts and it didn’t go our way – we bailed quite early in that competition.”
It was a similar theme the previous year, so a clear goal of WGC in 2018 is to improve on these recent seasons and finish either first or second to qualify for the Federation Cup-Marie Fry Trophy tournament. Sara says WGC has a mix of experienced and up and coming players this season.
“There is also Charlotte Leslie who has been in the team since year 10 with me. There are two more year 13s, Olivia Wills and Georgia Steedon. There is Jade Jones who is a year 12 striker and is the Capital U18 team with me and we have also got quite a few U15 girls in the group.”
Sara says that defending champions St Matthew’s are again a team to beat in Premier 1 this year. “They also have the Capital U18 goalie in their team, Natalie Austin.”
That Capital Women’s U18s side has just been named, along with their Men’s equivalent, to compete in the National U18 tournament in Dunedin in mid-July. So all the players selected in that are also busy training a couple of times a week for representative hockey as well as for their schools. As well as for school and training with the U18s, Sara plays club hockey for Hutt United.
Needless to say, with such a busy schedule, hockey is it for Sara sporting-wise. “It is just hockey for me this year, as it is quite full-on. I used to do a lot of athletics as well, as a hurdler and also did shot put and discus mainly.”
The Capital U18 Women’s Team 2018 is:
Natalie Austin, Jaime Borthwick, Trinity Clarke, Sara Cooper, Bella Cronin-Stone, Brooke Eddie, Ashleigh Hill, Jade Jones, Jessica Kelly, Ariel Kelman, Sophia Kersten, Emma Martin, Maddie Mclaren, Tania Noble-Shedlock, Georgie Peterson, Emily Register, Minna-Rose Reid, Amy Rossiter-Stead.
The St Paul’s Collegiate First XI hockey festival was a resounding success and concluded on Friday. St Paul’s coach Craig Hardham was very excited about the quality of hockey.
“The pre-season was great. To be honest a lot of the teams are very even. Results came down to how much tinkering each team did and how much they used the pre-season to give new players some good experience.”
An example of the unpredictable nature of the results is that Westlake BHS beat Whangarei BHS 4-0. Three weeks ago Westlake got beaten 6-2 by Hamilton BHS, but held them to a 4-4 draw last week while Whangarei BHS beat Hamilton BHS 3-0.
In addition to hockey a tournament dinner was held and respects paid on ANZAC day.
Saint Kentigern College and Westlake BHS were the only unbeaten teams at the tourney with St Kent’s piling on 17 goals and only conceding two. Hamilton BHS held the Auckland powerhouse to a draw and Westlake shared two fixtures.
Hamilton BHS won all five matches last year and only dropped one fixture in 2018. They only finished 9th at the Rankin Cup.
Rankin Cup champions Christ’s College won their first game, but only scored once in their next four.
There were many standout players, but names to watch for during the season include: Luke Aldred (Hamilton BHS), Daniel Woud (St Kentigern College), Oscar Wilson (Christ’s College), Devanad Bhika (Wellington College), Tom Roycroft (Westlake BHS), George Greenhill (St Paul’s Collegiate) and Brendon Peck (Whangarei BHS)
Hamilton BHS: 3 v Wellington College: 1
St Paul’s Collegiate: 0 v St Kentigern College: 5
Westlake BHS: 4 v Napier BHS: 2
Whangarei BHS: 4 v Wairarapa College: 0
Hastings BHS: 2 v Christ’s College: 3
Wellington College: 2 v St Kentigern College: 3
Napier BHS: 1 v Whangarei BHS: 5
St Paul's Collegiate: 5 v Hastings BHS: 1
Hamilton BHS: 3 v Christ’s College: 0
Wairarapa College: 0 v Westlake BHS: 1
Hamilton BHS: 4 v Westlake BHS: 4
Hastings BHS: 1 v Whangarei BHS: 2
Napier BHS: 0 v St Kentigern College: 5
Wairarapa College: 4 v Christ’s College: 0
St Paul's Collegiate: 2 v Wellington College: 1
Westlake BHS: 4 v Whangarei BHS: 0
Hamilton BHS: 0 v St Kentigern College: 0
Wellington College: 5 v Christ’s College: 0
St Paul's Collegiate: 0 v Napier BHS: 0
Wairarapa College: 0 v Hastings BHS: 0
Hastings BHS: 0 v St Kentigern College: 4
Napier BHS: 2 v Christ’s College: 1
Hamilton BHS: 0 v Whangarei BHS: 3
St Paul's Collegiate: 0 v Wairarapa College: 2
Wellington College: 3 v Westlake BHS: 3
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand