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
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