Maria Folau, Maia Wilson, Erikana Pedersen and Jamie-Lee Price. All former Mount Albert Grammar School netballers involved in the just completed Constellation Cup series between New Zealand and Australia.
Folau passed through the school gates over a decade ago, but Wilson, Pederson and Price were all part of MAGS teams that won a four-peat of NZSS Netball titles between 2012-15.
This year’s winning captain Addi Albert-Jones said that the benchmark that these MAGS teams set is a big part of the school’s netball culture.
“It was great to carry on the success of past MAGS teams, and we still keep in touch with former players. Most of our families are friends, so when we see Maia and Jamie, Holly and others we say hi to each other,” continued Addi.
Holly is Northern Stars midcourter Holly Fowler, who spent five years in the MAGS team and won four consecutive titles between 2012-15. Elle Temu is another recent player who is joining the Pulse in 2019.
Of this year’s winning team that beat Westlake Girls’ High School 32-23 in last week’s NZSS final in Timaru goal shoot Sharne Pupuke-Robati and goal attack Crystal Maro played in 2015.
In 2016 MAGS lost to Saint Kentigern College in the final in Lower Hutt, Last year MAGS finished sixth.
What was the key to MAGS being on top again this year?
“There were seven of us in this team that won the national title last week who have been playing together since we started at MAGS. We played together in Year 9 and Year 10 and we won all our games except one so we have come through as a tight group,” explained Addi.
“The one game we lost was in Year 10 in Singapore on an international tour and we lost to an Australian school but we ended up beating them in the final.”
Last week in Timaru MAGS won the title, but suffered one loss, going down 30-31 to New Plymouth Girls’ High School.
“I think that game showed us that just the MAGS reputation will not get us through, that we need to play to the best of our ability every game we play.”
On the road to the final, beating Saint Kentigern College was a highlight.
“Beating them by 10 [40-30] was a big result for us because we have been through games against them when we have lost to them by similar scores so we understand how it feels. For the girls to come out on top with a win like that really gave them confidence.”
The win over St Kent’s was on the penultimate day, propelling them into the final against Westlake.
Westlake were fast and accurate and well-coached by former Silver Fern April Ieremia.
“Our game plan from the start of the final was to dominate, to put ourselves ahead and stay in front, because the girls thrive off this.”
That is exactly how the final panned out, MAGS leading from start to finish.
MAGS qualified second for nationals from the Upper North Island Secondary Schools (UNISS) tournament, losing to Epsom Girls’ Grammar School in the final.
MAGS finished third in the Auckland Premier competition. “We missed out on the final, we lost a game to Westlake by one goal and we needed Epsom to beat St Kent’s but St Kent’s won that so we didn’t make it through.”
The future looks bright for MAGS. “There will a few Year 12s and Year 13s so I think MAGS will have a good team in the near future, as long they stay together and enjoy playing with each they will be fine.”
Captain and centre Addi was the only MAGS player in the NZSS team’s tour to Australia just prior to the nationals in Timaru. The team played the Australian U17 squad and an England U17 side in series of non-tournament matches. “It showed us where we need to be to compete with the Australians, it gave us a taste of how drilled they are and the level we need to be ourselves to compete with them.”
Addi, Crystal Maro, Halaevlau Toutaiolepo and Ruby Young all made the tournament team from the NZSS week in Timaru from MAGS.
The netball season now over, the focus turns to the classroom for the MAGS netballers with NCEA exams just around the corner. Many also play other summer sports such as touch, sevens rugby and athletics.
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