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.
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