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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