“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
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