“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)
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