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:
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