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
Hockey players scooped the supreme accolades at both the recent Hawke’s Bay and Auckland secondary school awards, with Napier Girls’ High School’s Kaitlin Cotter and St Cuthbert’s College’s Katie Doar recognised at their regions’ awards night.
Kaitlin and Katie, along with Olivia Shannon, who is also year 13 age but left Iona College in the Hawke’s Bay at the start of this year to finish her schooling by correspondence, are the three current school-age players in the Black Sticks training squad.
Since winning the supreme award, the female sportsperson award, the female hockey player award and the Jarrod Cunningham Youth Sports Trust Scholarship award at the Hawke’s Bay awards night, Kaitlin has been dividing her time between home and Auckland.
She is in full training mode with both the 25-strong senior Black Sticks squad and the New Zealand Women’s U21 team, while also having the small matter of NCEA exams on now too. “I had my first exam on Wednesday and I have got three more to go between now and the end of the month – I am sitting some up here at St Cuthbert’s College and then I am flying home for two of them,” she told College Sport Media.
At the start of December the New Zealand U21 team heads over to Canberra to play a tri-series with their Australian and Indian counterparts.
Kaitlin, Katie, Olivia and Holly Pearson (ex-Sacred Heart, New Plymouth) are the four players involved with both the U21 and senior Black Sticks squad.
Kaitlin was selected in the Black Sticks squad earlier this year and has played three practice games for the team, whilst a member of the national development squad last summer.
Kaitlin is a striker. She was the leading goal scorer at the National U18 tournament in Wellington in July, scoring 11 goals and playing a leading role in helping her Central side win a three-peat of titles.
She said this was a highlight of her year. “We won that tournament for the third year in a row and I have been part of that team for all three years, so that was pretty special.”
The Central team got beaten 2-4 by Auckland in pool play, but reversed that result in the final by beating them 3-0.
She also played up front with her younger sister Hannah, also a striker and year 11 at Napier Girls’ High School.
“It was different being one of the older players this year and helping the younger ones coming through or in the team for the first time, including my sister. And working with the two coaches Verity Sharland and Georgia Barnett was pretty cool.
Kaitlin (two) and Hannah were the goal scorers in the 3-0 final win against Auckland.
Incidentally, there is a third Cotter playing the same position as well. “My brother is in his last year of intermediate and we convinced him to play hockey this year and he went to the AIMS Games and they won the six-a-side tournament. He was playing striker too.”
In three years in the Central U18 team at this tournament, Kaitlin played 18 matches and scored 22 goals. She was this year’s Central Hockey Women’s U18 Player of the Year.
Kaitlin also played her second season for the Central Senior Women’s team in the National Hockey League (NHL).
“We ended up finishing fourth, but it was pretty cool to play with and against Black Sticks, such as Kayla Whitelock in my team and Gemma McCaw who plays for Midlands.”
Central were beaten finalists by North Harbour in In the 2018 NHL tournament, but Kaitlin was the joint leading goal scorer with seven.
Kaitlin’s fifth and final year with the Napier Girls’ High School First XI team was memorable from a local competition perspective, but less so nationally.
“We have played Iona College in the past few finals, as well as last year’s Federation Cup final, and we hadn’t managed to win any of them. But we won the title this year.”
Indeed Napier GHS won all 10 Hawke’s Bay competition matches in 2019, scoring 44 goals and conceding four.
In the NZSS Federation Cup tournament that followed, Napier GHS were ninth – with Kaitlin spending much of the week on the sideline, as she explained:
“On the first day we had two pool games and in the second game I tweaked my hamstring, so that put that me out for the rest of the week apart from the last game I played a couple of minutes just to play my last match for school.”
“The overall result was not as good as we were hoping for, especially coming second the year before, but we were still pretty happy with it in the end and we got back up after losing so it was okay.”
After winning their three pool games, Napier GHS lost their quarter-final match to Whangarei Girls’ High School 1-2, which put them out of Federation Cup contention. They then beat Feilding High School 2-1 (penalty shootout), Baradene College 4-2 and Palmerston North Girls’ High School 3-2.
As well as hockey, Kaitlin has a background in other sports.
“I have played hockey since primary school, and I have also done swimming and surf life saving competitively, but I decided to focus on hockey in my second year of secondary school.”
This year she was Napier GHS’s sports prefect, a role she enjoyed.
“We have a sports prefect and a deputy, who was Charlotte Minor and who I worked with during the year, and it was enjoyable helping to organise events throughout the year and getting to know some of the younger sporting girls coming through.”
Next year she is looking at doing part-time study at AUT in sports health and physical education.
College Sport Media (CSNZ) thanks the One Foundation for their support in 2019.
Losing locally is almost unthinkable for the King’s High School First XI hockey team.
The central Dunedin outfit have been undefeated for several years, but two setbacks prior to the Rankin Cup proved to be a blessing in disguise.
King’s was tipped over by Otago Boys' High School and John McGlashan College in consecutive games, losses that James Nicolson and Ethan Booth concede were products of the team becoming “big headed.”
King’s had to be switched on in pool play at the Rankin Cup. Grouped with Auckland champions Rosmini College, Whanganui High School and Wellington College, King’s initial goal of a top eight finish could have floundered quickly against quality opposition.
Kings beat Whanganui 3-1, tamed Wellington College 1-0 and held Rosmini to a 1-1 draw, advancing to the top 16 with a new found confidence and resolve. King’s biggest strength was their defence.
“We only conceded four goals in the whole tournament. Our defence was massive,” captain Booth observed.
“We knew if we stayed organised and showed a bit ticker we could beat anyone.”
King’s overpowered New Plymouth Boys’ High School 3-1 and Christchurch Boys’ High School 1-0 to establish a semi-final showdown with defending champions Saint Kentigern College.
King’s held their nerve to prevail 5-3 in a penalty shootout after scores were tied 1-1 at fulltime.
Dave Ross has been coaching at King’s for 30 years and speaking to the Otago Daily Times said:
"You have to be very calm and measured, otherwise you can get too far in front of yourself. When you realise the whole tournament is over, you can breathe a sigh of relief and think did we actually do that.”
In the final, King’s beat Timaru Boys’ High School 2-0, despite having less possession and shots on goal.
Both goals were scored in the second-half by Nicolson and Ronan McNeill. Nicolson reflects on his opening strike.
“They were peppering our goal, but we managed to read most of their plays and got down the other end. The goal was scored from a straight flick. I figured I should have a crack having had few chances earlier.”
Nicolson was a menace upfront all tournament while Booth was colossal on defence. Zeke Buschl was the glue holding the midfield together and with great support from Patrick Ward and Tom French.
“It hasn't really sunk in that we won,” Nicolson admitted.
“It’s pretty amazing and the school have been real supportive.”
King’s was the first school from Otago to win the Rankin Cup and just the fourth from the South Island since 2000.
It was a great weekend for the South Island. St Bede’s College beat John McGlashan College in the India Shield final 4-3 on penalties after scores were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation.
King’s High School Rankin Cup results at a glance:
Beat Whanganui High School 3-1
Drew with Rosmini College 1-1
Beat Wellington College 1-0
Beat New Plymouth Boys’ High School 3-1
Beat Christchurch Boys’ High School 1-0
Beat Saint Kentigern College 5-3 (1-1 at fulltime)
Beat Timaru Boys’ High School 2-0
The King’s High School Rankin Cup winning squad was:
Ocean Allemann, Ethan Booth (captain), Zeke Buschl, Zachary Diehl, Mitchell Fox, Tom French, Adam Greenfield, Sammy Johnson, Henry King, Harry Mason, Ronan Neill, James Nicolson, Joshua Paku, Ben Sowman, Carl von Bismarck, Patrick Ward
Rankin Cup – last 10 winners:
2019: King's High School, Dunedin
2018: Saint Kentigern College
2017: Christ's College
2016 St Paul's Collegiate, Hamilton
2015 Westlake Boys High School
2014 Hamilton Boys High School
2013 Hamilton Boys High School
2012 King's College, Auckland
2011 King's College, Auckland
2010 Christchurch Boys' High School
Watch the 2019 Rankin Cup final full game replay here:
The goal for the Taradale High School First XI hockey team in the Johnson Cup in Invercargill this past week was clear cut; qualify for the semi-finals to ensure a place in the 2020 Rankin Cup.
Taradale went one better; finishing runners-up to Rathkeale College.
Sean Findlay has helped drive Taradale into the top flight of New Zealand Secondary Schools’ hockey.
The New Zealand Under-21 selection was the leading scorer at the Johnson Cup, netting 12 goals in six games - six more than any other player.
Findlay, who scored in every outing, is an attacking midfielder and striker and offers an earnest appraisal of his game.
“One of my biggest strengths is my ability to pick the ball off other players as well as my stick work. One of my biggest weaknesses is my size. I’m quite a physical player, but sometimes I struggle against bigger opponents because of my lack of size.”
Findlay started playing hockey when he was seven years old, following in the footsteps of his father. He has been in the Taradale First XI since Year 9 and this season helped Taradale win the Hawke’s Bay Secondary Schools Division I competition, featuring five others teams.
“We won the final 3-2 [against Hastings Boys' High School], scoring two of the three goals in the last quarter. The team has really grown this year,” Findlay enthused.
Findlay identified his parents as major mentors. Simon Nation and Greg Nicol have been frequent coaches, while Shea McAleese is a dominant voice at present.
Findlay’s excellence in front of goal has been recognized by representative selectors. Findlay was part of the Hawke's Bay side that beat Australian Country and was MVP of that game as well as playing for the senior Central men’s team who faced Midlands.
“Playing for Central was a good step up for me. The game against grown men is a lot faster and physical which is an ideal situation in which to improve,” Findlay observed.
He is back at school this week, but next week his hockey takes him from Invercargill to Tauranga, selected int he 18-player Central squad for the National Hockey League tournament from 14-22 September.
Findlay will have ample opportunities to continue improving after that. He has been picked for the New Zealand Under 18 squad who have a National camp next month. Findlay was also named in the New Zealand Under 21 team which is competing in the Sultan of Jo Hor in October.
“It’s been a great season. I love the sport. I’d like to thank Just Hockey for helping me out with some quality gear to which allows me to compete at the top level,” Findlay concluded.
Taradale First XI Johnson Cup Results
Group: Southland Boys’ High School, 5-4 (Findlay 3 goals)
Group: Marlborough Boys’ High School, 5-2 (Findlay 2 goals)
Group: Rathkeale College, 3-3 (Findlay 1 goal)
Group: James Hargest School, 6-2 (Findlay 4 goals)
Semi: Cashmere High School, 3-2 (Findlay 1 goal)
Final: Rathkeale College, 1-4 (Findlay 1 goal)
Sport at Rosmini College is on fire. The senior basketballers are National champions, the First XI cricketers are bound for Nationals in December, and the First XI hockey team recently won the Super City competition after finishing sixth last year.
Isaac Houlbrooke is a member of the hockey outfit and the schools’ Sports Captain. Why is sport in such good health at Rosmini?
“We’ve got good coaches and high involvement. As a sports captain I try to lead by example and encourage the leaders of the other codes to do the same,” Houlbrooke answered.
Houlbrooke has led by example in hockey. The central midfielder was selected in the New Zealand Under 18 squad and has helped transform Rosmini into a dogged and accomplished outfit; highly regarded for their defence.
Rosmini only conceded four goals in eight games en route to the Super City title. Houlbrooke identifies a turning point in the season.
“We lost to Westlake in the North Harbour final and made some changes to our defence. We work really hard on defence, even if you are an attacking player,” he stressed.
“We started the Super City competition with tough wins against King’s and St Kent’s, two of the best teams in the country. At that point I knew we had the goods.”
Rosmini again stumbled to Westlake, but was undefeated against all the other six schools in the Super City competition, establishing a final against National champions St Kentigern College. Houlbrooke was to play a major role in Rosmini’s triumph.
“I scored in the first-half when I ran into the circle and reserved past the keeper,” he reflected.
“Our second goal was scored by our striker Jeevan Concisom who ran down the sideline and crossed to the edge of the circle. The ball took some lucky touches and went into the net. You need a bit of luck, but we kept hustling and managed to keep a very good side out.”
Houlbrooke is one of six Under 18 hockey players in the Sport New Zealand, Pathway to Podium program which provides annual support for leading athletes with training, diet and management.
Houlbrooke’s talents aren’t exclusively confined to hockey. He is a four-time Auckland lacrosse champion with Rosmini and has even traveled to Australia with his school for that code.
“I got into a few years back with some mates from school. We really enjoy it and have fundraisers to help us meet the costs of playing. I’m an attacking player,” Houlbrooke reveals.
There are four clubs in Auckland and Houlbrooke is aligned with Harbour who play at Nixon Park, Kingsland.
Rosmini’s tour of Australia took them as far as Perth as they made up the numbers in the Australian championships.
Rosmini don’t expect to be making up the numbers at the Rankin Cup in Christchurch next week. Rosmini are grouped with King’s High School, Dunedin, Wanganui High School and Wellington College.
“There’s a lot of good sides at Rankin. We’ll be taking things one game at a time, but we have a lot of experience and confidence,” Houlbrooke concluded.
The Capital Women’s U18 team recently finished fourth at the New Zealand U18 Regional Tournament played at the National Hockey Stadium in Wellington. The team’s goalkeeper Amy Rossiter-Stead was subsequently selected as one of four Wellington region players in the New Zealand U18 squads.
Amy has had a busy season playing for both the Wairarapa College First XI team and for Dalefield in Wellington club hockey competition.
College Sport Media met Amy caught up with Amy ahead of the Federation Cup tournament that runs all next week in Auckland.
How did you and Capital U18 go at the recent national tournament?
This is my second year playing in the tournament for the Capital U18 Women’s team. This year was really enjoyable for me as I was one of the senior players in the team and was also in the leadership group. We had a very successful tournament, placing fourth, which was a massive improvement from last year where we finished eighth. We placed second in our pool to the champions Central and then beat Canterbury in the top four play-offs. Unfortunately we were unlucky to lose the bronze medal match on the final day.
What were some highlights, from a team an personal perspective?
A major highlight was to be able to see how much a positive team culture can influence a team. This year a key focus was on our culture and I think it really showed in our performances at national tournament. We had faith in every team member and our awesome coaching/management staff who helped us thrive.
My personal highlight would have to be beating Canterbury in shootouts after a 4-4 draw in normal time. They are always a classy side, so to save 4 out of their 5 shootout attempts was definitely the highlight of the tournament. I have been working especially hard on shootout technique with my coach Steffan from the LEAP Goalkeeping Academy so I was really pleased with the outcome of this game.
Congratulations on being selected for the NZ U18 squad – was this squad selected directly from the National U18 tournament and was selection a surprise for you?
It has always been a dream of mine to make a New Zealand team, but at tournament there were a lot of quality goalkeepers so I knew it would be tough to be selected. The squad is selected from your performance at national tournament so I couldn’t quite believe it when I got the text from Dane Lett letting me know I’d made it, but its pleasing to see hard work does pay off in the end. I have had such a supportive group of people make this possible for me and I’m really grateful to my coaches, team-mates, parents and sponsors for everything they’ve done for me.
Is there a training camp coming up?
From what I understand it’s a series of training camps across the country and games within the squad. The first one is in Mount Maunganui in October. It’s basically to gather all the best U18 players in the country in one squad and expose them to a national squad environment.
Who else from the Wairarapa was selected for the National U18 squad?
Ollie Bunny was selected for the New Zealand U18 men’s squad which is pretty outstanding. He also attends Wairarapa College and he captained the Capital U18 men this year.
When did you start playing hockey and how did you become a goalkeeper?
My hockey journey started when I was five where I played for my local Kia Kaha hockey club in Greytown. I have represented Wairarapa since the age of nine, starting on the field as a defender. When I was 11 my mum needed a goalie for her women’s team that played in the local competition so she asked if I would put on the pads and stand in the goal for her. It turned out I really enjoyed the thrill of being a goalkeeper and loved the specialised role. Since then I have only ever played goalie and wouldn’t change it for the world.
The thing I love most about being a goalkeeper is that it’s completely different to any other position on the field. It is also quite creative with the shootout aspect which I love. It does require a different kind of fitness to a regular outfield player. It’s essentially a lot of hours in the gym building up your strength and working on explosive and agile movements. We don’t have to run long distances, but we have to be fast and powerful!
Tell us a bit about your gear as a goalkeeper?
There is a lot of (very expensive!) gear involved in being a goalkeeper. In total there are 15 pieces of equipment that I have to wear which includes groin pad, shorts, kickers, leg guard, chest guard, arm guards, a goalie top (different from the field players), a helmet, gloves and a stick (I use a special goalie stick but many goalkeepers prefer a regular field stick.)
What about when games go to extra time and you might have to abandon your goal?
This rule varies from tournament to tournament. At the national tournament it went straight to shootouts after a draw which is very exciting and my favourite part of the game! Some tournaments allow the goalie to remain on the turf for extra time, but it just depends on the rules.
Have you played in the Federation Cup before?
This will be my first year playing in Federation Cup which will be really exciting. I previously attended Solway College for six years who play in the local Wairarapa competition, but I knew I needed to be playing in a Wellington competition on a weekly basis to further my hockey. Wairarapa College placed 20th in the country in 2018 so we have big goals around this year’s competition. We have a tough pool, but if we keep training hard I’m confident we will succeed.
I am privileged to be in a team with a really positive team culture and all the girls work really hard at training so it’s a great environment to be in. We are lucky to have experienced and positive coaching staff as well lead by Mr Willie Schaefer.
In club hockey, you played for Dalefield this season. Tell us a bit about how the club season?
This is my second year playing for Dalefield Premier Women. I really owe it to Dalefield for helping me achieve my goals in hockey. Playing in the Wellington Premier 1 competition, I am exposed to the best players in the region every week. I have learnt so much from experienced players including Katherine van Woerkom and Michael O’Connor who have played for various Capital and New Zealand teams. Unfortunately we lost against Victoria University on Saturday which puts us in the 3rd and 4th playoff. Even though this is not where we ideally wanted to end up, I have learnt so much this season and can’t thank our coach Michael and manager Karen enough for the hours they devote to our amazing club.
How many of your school teammates play for Dalefield?
There are four Wairarapa College girls who play for Dalefield which is really cool. We learn so much off the senior girls, but we are also exposed to members of the Dalefield men’s team such as Benedict van Woerkom and Black Stick Dane Lett, who help out with trainings and share their knowledge which is invaluable.
Outside of hockey, have you played other sports?
I used to be a competitive swimmer, my best event was 200m butterfly and when I was 12 years old I placed 11th at the New Zealand Junior Swimming Championships, but I stopped swimming when I was 14. I also used to play Cricket for the Solway First XI and have played at a representative level as well, Wairarapa U15s. However, hockey became my priority and I devote all my attention towards that at the moment, but in the summer months I do Cross Fit which has been so useful to my goalkeeping position due to the strength and plyometric component.
The Federation Cup/Marie Fry tournament is in Auckland from 2/7 September. Wairarapa College are in Pool D with Villa Maria College, St Andrew’s College and Wellington Girls’ College.
The Wellington Girls’ College First XI hockey team have been big improvers in secondary school sport in 2019.
Now they are hoping to carry their good form in the Wellington Secondary School P1 competition on to the national stage when they line up in the Federation Cup/Marie Fry tournament alongside the best 32 girls hockey schools in the country.
Last Friday, they won the Wellington competition in style, beating St Matthew’s Collegiate 5-0 in the final at the National Hockey Stadium. They scored their first goal after 45 seconds and kept the pressure on to the end to register an unbeaten season and to achieve what no WGC side has done since any of the current players have been alive.
“This is the first time we have won P1 in 19 years,” said head coach Riley Jennings.
“In 2000 they drew the final, so they shared the trophy that year, and the last time they won it outright was 1998.”
In 2013 the WGC First XI dropped to Premier 2. “So it has been about a six-year re-build to get them back into the Premier 1 division and then to work their way up the ranks.”
This is coach Riley’s third season in charge of the team, with Bjorn Dix the assistant coach.
The team won all 10 round-robin games heading into the playoffs in the just completed school competition, also winning the annual pre-season grading tournament unbeaten.
They beat St Matthew’s Collegiate 3-1 in their first playoff match to advance straight to the final before beating them again 5-0 in the decider after St Matthew’s had beaten Wairarapa College 2-1 in major semi-final the week between.
“We played St Matthew’s three times this term including the final and won all three and beat them over the hill, and built some momentum and allowed the girls to back themselves and build some momentum.”
The future is bright for the WGC hockey programme.
“We have got a mix of year 10 to year 13 players, said Riley. “With five year 13s in the current group there are a lot of players coming back next year.”
There were five players in the recent Capital U18 side that finished third at the National U18 Championships in July in Wellington and one player that made the New Zealand U18 Women’s squad that was selected afterwards.
That player is Ruby Baker, who is year 11 and the team’s striker, and a player to build the team around in 2020 and 2021.
The WGC second XI also made their Premier 2 final, missing out to Paraparaumu College 0-3 in their decider.
Caitlin Rennie is the team’s centre back and captain. In 10 regular season Premier 1 games, WGC scored exactly 50 goals and conceded just four.
Caitlin put this impressive defensive record down to experience.
“it is a whole team game and there are two other year 13s at the back with me and they have been there pretty much as long as I have so I think the strong bond we have at the back certainly helps,” said Caitlin.
Caitlin said the season as a whole has been a major highlight. “Going undefeated throughout the season was a special achievement for us,” she said. “But one game where we sort of strived to keep the energy up was our traditional against Wellington East Girls’ College. I think the feeling we had in that game and the momentum we built in it is something we are trying to replicate in all our games.”
Several players also play club hockey, and three were involved in the recent Wellington Women’s club final between winners Harbour City and Hutt United - Katherine Winter, Ruby Baker (both Hutt United) and Sorita Pho (Harbour City).
Next up is the Federation Cup NZSS Division 1 tournament in Auckland over Winter Tournament Week.
“It is definitely very exciting for us but it is also unknown territory for us because none of us in the team has ever been to Fed Cup before,” said Caitlin.
Coach Riley agreed.
“We won the [second division] Jenny Hair tournament last year and finished second in Premier 1 in Wellington. We are a little bit unsure of what we are expecting, but we are hoping for a decent finish,” said Riley.
“There are 32 teams and there are four knockout games in a row if you want to win it, so it is pretty cut-throat.”
WGC are in the same pool as Wairarapa College, who finished third in the Wellington competition, and Christchurch schools Villa Maria College and St Andrew’s College.
Above left: Jana Niedermayr and Above right: India Ralph with school teammate and Central Hockey U18 teammate Kaleigh Morris. PHOTOS: Sacred Heart Girls' College and Hockey NZ.
A pair of year 12 Sacred Heart College, New Plymouth students won national titles for Central teams in their representative tournaments last month in Wellington.
Jana Niedermayr (football and futsal) was part of the Central U16 Futsal side that won their maiden Age Grade Nationals title, beating Auckland 4-3 in the final, and India Ralph (hockey) was part of the Central U18 team that won a three-peat of National U18 hockey titles, defeating Auckland 3-0 in the final.
Both will be lining up for their school’s respective football and hockey First XIs in Winter Tournament Week in early September.
College Sport Media caught up with both for a double profile – questions and answers below.
College Sport Media: Congratulations on winning your tournaments over the school holidays – what were a couple of personal and team highlights?
Jana Niedermayr: A highlight for me personally would have been being named MVP of the team in the game against Auckland, and winning was the major team highlight. Plus scoring in the other games of the tournament. The game was close the whole time. I think we got the first goal but were playing catch up until the end. it was a high intensity game and resulted in the "stronger" team being played mainly, I was lucky enough to be in that team so I got a little extra game time most of the games. Going into the game we knew it was definitely going to be our hardest game and it could have gone either way. Luckily we got some nice goals which made us fight harder for the win and raise our intensity.
India Ralph: I have many highlights playing for Central in the National U18 hockey tournament. Definitely one of my biggest highlights would be making the final and going on to win for the third time in a row. Another huge highlight for me and the team would be the Central U18 boys securing a spot in the final, it was an awesome experience to have both central teams playing with the final.
From the Central U18 girls campaign I took away many valuable life lessons. My coaching team that consisted of Verity Sharland and Georgia Barnett taught me the true meaning of teamwork and worked hard to encourage our team to display these values on the field. Being given the opportunity to play for a team that puts their body on the line for each other is something I will always cherish and I have definitely continued to develop as a player as a result of this environment.
Within my team we had a lot of discussion around what is going to get us to the final, and we always came back to the theme of teamwork. As a team, before every game we would reflect largely on quotes that my coach Verity had selected. The quote “the strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team” was something that always stuck with me and really influenced my perspective around the game of hockey. My coaches and management team made it very clear that as a team if wanted to win for the third year in a row we needed to do it together. We had to have the desire to put everything out on the field for one another, it couldn’t be individual efforts that would gain us a spot in the final. I have been taught through this campaign to not dwell on my mistakes as it distracts me from what really matters. Throughout the 2 years that I have played for Central I have learnt the true essence of living in the moment.
CSM: Who were the other players from your school and from Taranaki in your winning tournament teams?
Jana: I was the only player from Sacred Heart Girls' College New Plymouth. However there were three other girls from Taranaki in the team that I also play football with: Eve and Tessa Barry and Amelia Simmers from New Plymouth Girls' High School.
India: Four Taranaki Girls were named in the Central U18 Girls team that won the National U18 hockey title. My school teammate who also attends New Plymouth Sacred Heart Girls College, Kaleigh Morris and Kate Atkinson and Natalia Roughton from New Plymouth Girls’ High School.
Three Taranaki Boys were named in the Central U18 Boys team that came second in the National U18 hockey tournament. Branden Russ and Daniel Foss from New Plymouth Boys’ High School, and past Francis Douglas Memorial College student, Liam McSweeney.
CSM: What positions do you play and have you always been that position?
Jana: In football I play as a centre back (CB) or a full back (FB) on either side. Occasionally I have been played as a winger, but I have played defence my whole life. Although it was only in the last couple of years that I began playing full back not just CB. In futsal I mainly play fixo but occasionally play flanker as well. In futsal the players are meant to be constantly rotating so positions change throughout the play.
India: I play several positions on the hockey field, but I prominently am a defender. I play screen for school and club league and wing half for Central. I have always played a defensive role from a young age, I think this was influenced by my sister [see below]. My sister is a forward, so I always had to play as a defender in the garden when we practiced.
CSM: Tell us about what football/hockey teams you play for, as well as for school?
Jana: I currently play for the football club Palmerston North Marist in the Wellington league. I hope to make the National Age Group Team for the National age group tournament (NAGT) and the central womens team again to play in the national women league (NWL). Highlights for me would be making tournament team at NAGT, making the NZ ID camps since I have been 14 in preparation for selection for the FIFA U17 World Cup, making the NZSS u17 team to go to Dallas April 2019 and being named a MVP and making the U16 NZ team that went to China. However due to me not being born in NZ [born in the USA] but only having had a NZ passport for less than a year I have had to apply for dispensation with FIFA and was therefore not allowed to play. I am still waiting for dispensation.
India: I have represented Taranaki in rep hockey for many years. Although I haven’t represented them in the past two years, I still have many highlights from playing rep hockey for Taranaki at a young age. I have played U11’s, U’13, U15’s for Taranaki hockey and always enjoyed the atmosphere of the tournaments. Playing for Taranaki has enabled me to build friendships with other players within my association that don’t attend my school. I have made so many close friends through the Taranaki hockey programmes and I have loved playing alongside such an amazing bunch of girls.
I play club hockey for Northern United. We recently beat Hawera in the final, securing us the fourth competition win in a row. I always look forward to playing club hockey because I get to play alongside some experienced players that have taught me a lot about the game. The competition within the club league is always strong and I enjoy playing against some experienced players.
CSM: Jana, tell us a bit more about your trip to Dallas last year?
Jana: The NZSS U17 team was an amazing experience. it was so cool being able to play against girls from different countries who play a different style of football. I learnt a lot throughout the tournament. Highlights of the trip would have been being named one of the MVPs and being scouted for potential scholarships. I have travelled to Australia for football with the NZSS u15 team in 2018.
CSM: Jana, what is coming up in representative football for you?
Jana: Rep football has recently started here in Taranaki. I am hoping to make the 03/04 feds team going to Wellington for NAGT at the end of the year. From that tournament I am hoping to make it into the NZ ID camps for the U17 World Cup in 2020. I am also hoping to make the central women’s team in the NWL. Qualifiers for the 2020 World Cup is in December so I am aiming to make that team as well. However my main goal is the 2020 U17 World Cup team.
CSM: India, Your older sister Hope Ralph is in the U21 Black Sticks and in the Black Sticks Development squad and your mum is your school coach, hockey runs in your family?
India: For as long as I can remember hockey has been a big part of my family. The amount of support from my parents growing up has been incredible, my mum has always coached me and my sister through school and club league and my dad can always be heard shouting from the sidelines. My sisters successes within hockey has definitely inspired me to continue to work hard. After making the New Zealand U21 Black Sticks and being named in the Black Sticks Development, I have never been so proud of my sister and her hard work. Although my sister hates it when I call her my idol, she is definitely someone that I aspire to be like. I have been very fortunate to grow up playing alongside my sister from school, club and regional hockey teams and she has continued to teach me a lot within that time. I have always admired my sister's passion for the game and I praise her for not giving up on her dreams. My sister’s strong work ethic is definitely something that inspires me every day, and I am always in awe to how she can juggle university on top of training at such a high level. My sister has always supported/encouraged me through hockey and has really opened up my eyes up to if you have the desire to achieve something and keep working hard, you will not go unrewarded. Although I complain when she forces me to go to the turf with her and makes me pace her on a bike when she goes running, I really wouldn’t trade it for anything. It makes me so happy to see that my sister is being rewarded for following her passion and I hope one day I can play alongside her.
CSM: Tell us about your school football/hockey and preparations for the NZSS tournaments in Winter Tournament Week?
Jana: Our school team plays against the New Plymouth Girls' high first XI who we recently beat. In preparation for nationals at the beginning of September we also play in exchanges with other schools such as Hillcrest and Palmerston North Girls’ High first XI.
We have been training for the tournament the whole year. Last year we came 17th, the year prior we came 27th I think and in 2016 we came 15th.
India: We have recently come off a 3-0 loss in the final of the school premier league game to New Plymouth Girls’ High School, who bring a high level of competition to the school's league and similar to my school team they display a strong desire to not give up and will continue to drive until the final whistle. Personally, I believe this makes playing against them not come easy to any team. As the Sacred Heart First XI Captain it is always an amazing opportunity to play against such a well put together side and although Girls’ High are considered our “rivals” their sportsmanship on and off the field and team spirit is valued by many teams. I have had the privilege to play alongside some of the Girls’ High players in rep team and regional tournaments and I can say that you can always count on them to bring some banter to practice.
It is definitely a goal for our team to re-earn promotion into Federation Cup. Last year, after we got relegated to play in the Jenny Hair tournament in 2019 we have been working on rebuilding as a team since. This year, we have had a lot of build-up games leading up to tournament, which has gained us more confidence in our ability as a team. I look forward to seeing how we go at tournament and if we have success within it.
CSM: After the school nationals, what is coming up before the end of the year?
Jana: After nationals school football is over. However that is the start of the reps/feds season with game days in Whanganui, Palmerston North and Napier. The NWL season begins afterwards as well. There is normally only a 3 week break after NAGT which is in December before trainings start again.
India: At the end of the hockey season, I start strength and conditioning training. Although the season will be over my desire to keep achieving makes me work hard on the off season and you can always see me hitting at the turf when I have the time. I have always preferred to continue to train hard in the off season because I believe it makes it easier to keep my skills consistent and helps me stay focused. I usually play summer league hockey with my friends for fun but otherwise I will just keep up my running to maintain my fitness and go to the turf in my own time to work on perfecting my skills.
CSM: Last, What are you doing in school and what are your favourite and least favourite subjects?
Jana: I am doing NCEA level 2. My favourite subject would probably be physics or chemistry. While my least favourite subject would be English.
India: I am Level 2 at. Although I enjoy all the subjects I take this year, I do specifically enjoy learning Chemistry and Physics. I wouldn’t say that I have a least favourite subject.
CSM: Thank you both for your time and good luck for Winter Tournament Week and for the future!
A handful of the St Bede’s College First XI hockey team have played together for a number of years.
Captain Joey Morrison leads a cohort of boys from the Marist club who were dominant at the intermediate level, but had failed to repeat the success at Papanui.
It was clear things had to change in 2019 to avoid a repeat of the disappointing fifth-placed finish in the Canterbury Premiership last year.
“In the past our only pre-season was an ANZAC tournament,” Morrison reveals.
“We have a lot of Year 13’s and decided if we were going to achieve anything this year we had to substantially increase our work and skills,” he said.
Personalised fitness programs, accompanied with morning practice, gym visits and skills sessions were introduced. Coach Matt Walcott benefited greatly from a period in the UK.
“Matt’s been the coach since I first made the First XI in Year 9. He’s always been really supportive, but when he came back from England he was way more hands on and had increased his skill-set,” Morrison explains.
“Ben Grimshaw is a good assistant too. We all have greater work ethic.”
St Bede’s have just gone through the round-robin of the Connetics League unbeaten. In 11 matches they achieved eight wins and three draws, outscoring opponents 31-14.
On July 26, St Bede’s won the Connetics Challenge Shield for the first time, edging perennial powerhouses St Andrew’s College 1-0.
“We had never got our hands on it before so it was a great win,” Morrison enthused.
“We managed to get an early goal through James McSweeney and held on after a great performance by our goalie Duncan Kennett who is usually in the 2nd XI.”
The suppression of StAC was a triumph for the St Bede’s defence. St Bede’s have conceded the fewest goals in the competition, while St Andrew’s have scored the most goals.
“We really pride ourselves on defence. My co-captain is Charlie Hall who is the leader of the defence. He’s really explosive and leads by example,” Morrison acclaimed.
Christ’s College have set the benchmark in Christchurch the past two seasons. In 2017 they won the Rankin Cup Nationals and returned to the final 12 months ago. Morrison had never beaten Christ’s until this season.
“It’s fair to say I’ve been part of a few hidings by Christ’s; one time they beat us 8-0 or something ridiculous like that,” Morrison mourned
“They’re pretty handy again, but we’ve beaten them 2-1 in both games and were better in the second game. In the first game George Baker scored a PC with the last shot. In the second game we got up 2-0 and let them back into it.”
St Bede’s beat fierce rivals Christchurch Boys’ High School 2-1 and 5-2.
Morrison, a sound defending and precise distributing midfielder, has been selected for the New Zealand Under-18 training squad in September in Mount Maunganui, alongside St Bede’s teammate George Baker.
However the immediate focus is next week’s local semi-finals and the bid to improve from a 23rd place in New Zealand 12 months ago.
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