The Wellington Girls’ College First XI hockey team won Wellington’s P1 secondary school girls’ title in 2019 for the first time in almost two decades. On Friday night in the final at the National Hockey Stadium they won it for the third consecutive year.
WGC beat Tawa College 7-1 in the final, to complete 14 straight wins in 2021 and to round out three seasons of winning every game.
Year 13 player and recently selected Senior Wellington Women’s team squad member Ruby Baker has been in the team every year since 2019 and played a key role in the final.
The run of play in the final saw WGC score twice from penalty corners to lead 2-0 at halftime. They quickly doubled their lead to 4-0 in the third quarter. Tawa clawed back a goal, but WGC scored another three goals to complete a comprehensive win.
Ruby plays attacking midfield for her school team and scored one of the goals herself, while Riana Pho and Juliet Leslie each scored twice.
“It was great for Juliet to score twice in the final as she has been injured this year and has only been playing the last 5-10 minutes in recent games and she came on for us on Friday and scored our last two goals,” said Ruby.
Ruby said that the final went to plan from the team’s perspective.
“We went into the game confident, because we had been training hard all year and we know what style of hockey our coach wants us to play – which was to go out and there and play simple hockey and play to the best of our abilities, and I think we achieved that.”
A key feature of WGC’s game all season has been their swift counter-attacking style, turning defence on to attack in the blink of an eye.
“That is one of the best qualities of our team, all our strikers in midfield and even our defenders are quick, so we use that style of play to our advantage. We look to get it up the other end and then try and be as clinical as possible.”
This year in 14 games, WGC scored 81 goals and conceded just four.
Ruby said that the team clicked right from the start this year.
“One game that stood out to me was our very first game. I have never been in a team where every single player gave it 100 percent; by the end of the game everybody had tried their hardest and given it their all, and I was thinking right then that we had such a good shot this year.”
Not just winning in Wellington again but mixing it with the best teams in the country at the Federation Cup NZSS tournament that was originally scheduled for the Hawke’s Bay earlier this month but was subsequently sadly cancelled because of COVID.
The team’s co-captains this year have been Zara Beard and goal-keeper Kate Kominik-Fraser.
Zara injured her ACL during pre-season, which ended her playing season. But she then joined head coach Finn O'Connor as his assistant for the rest of the season.
“She has been amazing this year helping us out alongside Finn,” said Ruby.
There are other players in the WGC team who stand out in other sports too, such as year 10 Wellington Women’s cricket team squad member Kate Chandler, cross country and track runner Amy McHardy, orienteerer Rachel Baker (no relation to Ruby) and nationally ranked gymnast Sarah Jennings.
There are seven year 13 players who played their last games for the school last Friday (above, with coach Finn O'Connor), but Ruby said the team is in good hands.
“Our school’s hockey is really strong overall now, so I think they will carry on from where we have left off in 2022, and Finn will hopefully coach them again and keep them going in the same direction.”
Ruby’s sporting focus is solely hockey. She captained the Wellington U18 Girls representative team this year as a striker. That team finished seventh of 20 teams at the National U18 tournament in Wellington July, behind winners North Harbour.
She has just been selected in the Wellington Women’s team, the only current schoolgirl in that side. They play in the NHC tournament in Tauranga from 14-20 November.
Ruby, along with Riana Pho and Kate Kominik-Fraser, are the three WGC players who have been selected in the New Zealand U18s squad for an upcoming camp.
This will be the third consecutive year that Ruby has made this squad.
She used to play club hockey for the Hutt Club, but a newly introduced rule means players can only play for their schools and in representative teams, not all three such as is the case in other sports such as football and netball.
Next year Ruby plans to stay in Wellington and go to university and continue playing hockey to the highest level she can achieve.
The Wellington Girls’ College team this year that won the Wellington P1 title unbeaten was:
Rachel Baker, Ruby Baker, Zara Beard, Kate Chandler, Jess Davenport, Abby Draper, Lola Fowler, Bella Hoggarth, Sarah Jennings, Kate Kominik Fraser, Juliet Leslie, Amy McHardy, Cara Penetito, Riana Pho, Lucy Pottinger, Charlotte Talbot. Coaches: Finn O’Connor, Zara Beard. Managers: Anna Davison, Deb King.
Story by Steven White, for College Sport Media and College Sport Wellington, September 2021.
The Canterbury Connetics Secondary Schools' Premier Girls Hockey Championship is one of the most competitive school sport competitions in New Zealand.
In recent years this competition has been hotly contested, with the title shared around.
St Margaret’s College held a vice-like grip on the title for many seasons, but their run was ended in 2015 by Villa Maria College, who defended it in 2016. Rangi Ruru Girls’ School won in 2017, St Margaret’s again in 2018, Rangi Ruru in 2019 and Christchurch Girls’ High School in 2020.
On Thursday night Rangi Ruru beat CGHS 2-0 in the final to be crowned this year’s champions.
In front of a small vocal crowd at Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub and a large viewing audience on the livestream, Rangi Ruru found the back of the net late in the second quarter and again at the tail-end of the third quarter and then hung on over a frantic 15 minutes.
Rangi Ruru’s leadership group this season comprised the three year 13 midfielders, Annabelle Schneideman, Tessa Reid and right midfielder Hayley McKellow.
Speaking to College Sport Media, Annabelle and Tessa (Hayley was in an exam at the time) said it was a great way to cap an unbeaten school hockey season.
“For Tessa, Hayley and I, we have all been the team together since year 9 and winning in our final year had always been our dream,” said Annabelle. “With Covid-19 and the Federation Cup tournament being cancelled we were not sure the game was going to happen, so we were excited to get the opportunity to come back out and show what we have got.”
“Before the game we had a session thanking everyone and celebrating us year 13s playing our last games in the Rangi Ruru dress. We couldn’t have asked for a better finish.”
Tessa agreed: “Not knowing what was going to happen, it was great to have that last game and put our name on the trophy and leave our legacy for the rest of the team coming back to defend the title in 2022.”
Other year 13s in the team were goalie Scarlett Hall and defender Lucy Murray.
The final was a tight affair, with the two sides locked up at 0-0 until late in the second quarter when Rangi Ruru’s Arabelle McGuckin scored to put them up 1-0 at halftime.
Charlotte Roxborough Judd scored their second goal just before the end of the third quarter.
CGHS lifted in the fourth quarter, Rangi Ruru’s defence pulling out all stops to hold them out.
Tessa said that at no stage until the final whistle Rangi Ruru thought they had the game won.
“Girls’ High have a real ability to come back and we knew they would fight to the end, so going 2-0 up was great but if they had scored then they were pretty much back in the game.”
Annabelle agreed: “They got a penalty corner in the first minute and that was a bit of a wake-up call for us and it was like right game on, we have to raise the bar. We created quite a few opportunities that didn’t quite come off, but we knew it was coming.”
CGHS goalie Claudia Rouse played a leading role for her team, making several saves.
“It was a little bit different to other finals we have played in before,” Annabelle continued, “because of the fewer spectators. A school hockey final usually has lots of people from the other schools coming to support the game.”
“The people that were there really made up for a bigger crowd, we knew many were supporting us over the livestream and from afar,” said Tessa.
Rangi Ruru were top qualifiers heading into the final, winning 10 and drawing one of their 11 round-robin games. The draw was against St Margaret’s, 1-1.
Both players agreed a memorable match before the final was also against CGHS.
“We won the Connectics Shield [Challenge trophy] off them in our third game, which set the tone for the season and gave us something to play for every game and we realised we can’t take any challenger lightly,” said Tessa.
“We hadn’t beaten CGHS at all the previous season, so for us it was a real 'proving ourselves moment', that this is our new team, and we are going to be hard to beat,” said Annabelle. “Also following the draw with St Margaret’s, we won 6-2, which is not the typical score between our schools as Rangi Ruru-St Margaret’s is always a close game.”
During the regular season, Rangi Ruru scored 47 goals and conceded seven.
The players thanked their help this year, with Aaron Ford the head coach and Megan Wong the manager both integral to their success.
Former professional rugby player and Christ’s College First XV coach Ross Kennedy was the team’s strength and conditioning coach. Car dealership Archibalds have been a big sponsor, while the school itself has been hugely supportive.
Annabelle and Tessa also play club hockey for High School Old Boys-Burnside, while Haley McKellow plays for Hornby.
Many of Rangi Ruru’s team were also in the Canterbury U18s reps in 2021, spread between the As and the Bs. The Canterbury As were third at the National U18 tournament.
Three players will be playing in November’s National Hockey Championship representative tournaments, Tessa for the Canterbury Cats, Annabelle for the Canterbury Barracudas (B team) and Haley for the Southland side.
The win caps off a big year for Rangi Ruru, who also struck major success at the Maadi Cup rowing regatta in March.
Tessa and her sister Abbey Reid, Caitlin Muir and Nicole Vance were in the boat that won the Girls U18 Eights title at Maadi Cup – edging out CGHS in the gold medal race. The squad achieved the rare feat of winning all five Eights races, bringing home the Top Secondary School Award, Top Sweep School and the Levin 75th Jubilee Cup for the U18 Eights.
The Rangi Ruru team was:
Scarlett Hall – YR 13 (Goalie), Lily Pringle – Yr 12, Abby Reid – Yr 12, Lucy Murray – Yr 13, Jess Cooper – Yr 12, Kaiyah Ratu – Yr 10, Caitlin Muir – Yr 11, Katie Bond – Yr 12, Hayley McKellow – Yr 13, Tessa Reid -Yr 13, Annabelle Schneideman – Yr 13, Phoebe Inkson – Yr 11, Arabelle McGuckin – Yr 11, Emily Jackson – Yr 12, Charlotte Roxborough Judd – Yr 12, Nicole Vance – Yr 11, Molly Moffat (inj).
Christ’s College won the Connectics Cup Canterbury Boys Premier 1 Canterbury final on Friday night with a 4-1 victory over Timaru Boys’ High School.
This was Christ’s fifth title in the 10-year history of this competition, and they were playing in their eighth final.
The final score flattered Christ’s somewhat, with a tense and even first quarter seeing scores locked at 0-0 at the first break. It remained that way until well into the second quarter before Christ’s broke the match open with a sensational two-goal strike that put them up 2-0.
In the space of 90 seconds young-gun Finn McCormack-Young slammed in two goals to stun the top qualifiers Timaru.
Timaru immediately grabbed a goal back, but Christ’s put themselves straight back on to attack and scored their third goal and suddenly they led 3-1.
The third quarter played out like the first, with no scoring, while most of the fourth remained scoreless too. With about five minutes to play, Timaru took their goalie off and brought on an extra striker in a desperate bid to score twice to force a shootout.
Christ’s defence had been resolute all match and remained that way. Right on fulltime they broke out and scored their fourth goal to seal victory, to complete a late season resurgence.
A few weeks before lockdown, Christ’s had sneaked into the fifth placed qualifier’s position for the finals series with a 2-2 draw over top qualifiers Timaru. This was the first time in a decade of the Connetics Cup Boys competition that the fifth placed team had gone on to win.
Interview and story by Steven White for College Sport Media, September 2021.
Photos thanks to Geoff Soper Photography - more photos HERE
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