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Young teams make their mark

The young players in ACG Strathallan's First XI Hockey teams certainly showed their mettle this season. They enjoyed phenomenal results, with the boys' team finishing undefeated and the girls' team ending the season with some very impressive wins.
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ACG Strathallan's  undefeated First XI Boys Hockey team

They may be young, but that didn’t stop ACG Strathallan’s First XI Boys Hockey team from accomplishing great things in the Auckland B-grade this season.

After battling it out against big schools like Howick College, Lynfield College and Sacred Heart, the team finished their competition undefeated, and captain Tom O’Sullivan couldn’t be prouder.

“Our team is good but very young, so it’s hard to compete with the premier teams as they have lots of the older top Auckland players,” explains Tom. “Strathallan’s First XI is made up of students from Years 9 to 12, but most of them are at the younger end of the range. We lost 11 of last year’s players as they were Year 13, and only five of the 2020 team played for us this year.”

But what the boys lacked in age and experience, they more than made up for in passion and enthusiasm.

“We really came together over the season and played some great hockey. There’s a great camaraderie and positive spirit among the boys.”

Manager and stand-in coach Hugo Fourie was delighted with the team’s achievements, both on and off the field.

“At the start of the hockey season, the boys knew they had a tough year ahead,” says Hugo. “With most players in Year 11 and younger, playing together in the Auckland competition was a new adventure for many of them. They also had to overcome the loss of their coach during this competition, but they stayed motivated. I am very proud of this young team and am really looking forward to seeing them play again next year.”

ACG Strathallan’s First XI Girls Hockey team faced a few challenges of their own this year, with four Year 13 students leaving the side in 2020. But coach Marc Richardson was determined not to let that hold them back.

“We decided to have two intensive training sessions a week, with team building and strategic training on Tuesdays and skills training on Wednesdays,” Marc explains. And thanks to ACG Strathallan’s world-class hockey turf, the girls had the ideal environment to hone their talents.

While the season started slowly with two narrow losses, the round-robin action ended on a high with a comprehensive victory over the top two teams in the competition.

“The team is made up of a diverse range of skills and talent, but at the point of the arrow sits our captains, Nicola Moorhead and Kinsey Cropper. They have tirelessly led the team to the point where they are confident players, both on and off the field.

“The thing I am most proud of is how united the team has become. With the range of year levels starting at Year 9 and ending at Year 13, they are wonderfully close to each other and take great joy in each other’s personal victories. Hockey has easily become my favourite part of the day because of the love the girls show for the game and the pride they have in their school.”

For co-captain Nicola Moorhead it was another great hockey season with plenty of highlights.

“Our most memorable games would have to be some of our most fought for victories (3-1 against Macleans and 1-0 against King’s) as well as our last game of the season against Mount Albert Grammar which we won 6-0, and all the girls played amazingly,” Nicola says.

“I think our biggest achievement, though, was coming from the bottom of the table in the first round to beat the two top teams, even if we didn’t end up winning in the final placings.”

ACG Strathallan's First XI Girls Hockey team with coach Marc Richardson