“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.
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