Aon Federation Cup Preview – Will North Island teams cause upsets?

Since the initial joining of the Federation Cup and Marie Fry Trophy tournament in 2015, the top placing’s have been largely dominated by South Island teams. Four teams have featured in the top-4 each year including St Cuthbert’s College, Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, St Margaret’s College and Villa Maria College with the exception of Diocesan School For Girls placing fourth in 2016.

Although St Cuthbert’s won the 2017 Federation Cup and have been a prominent feature in previous years, a number of North Island teams are looking to turn the tables and be that team that creates an upset or two at this years’ tournament. Westlake Girl’s High School is one of many North Island school’s looking to do so after a 12th-place finish in 2017.

“I’m excited to see what results my team can produce this year,” said Briana Lupton, coach of the Westlake Girls 1st XI hockey team. “Our goal is always to perform as well as we can come tournament time, so if that means we have to sacrifice earlier results to develop then we take an ego hit and move forward. Our pool in particular is going to be interesting with St Margaret’s being a consistent powerhouse, Orewa placed in the intercity top four and Bethlehem who can’t be underestimated either. The new tournament structure is fantastic with a high player turnover every year where teams can look vastly different year-to-year and it gives each team an opportunity to capitalise on senior members in their final years of school.”

When asked about the level of competition across the South Island and why they have higher consistent placings than most North Island teams Lupton adds “From what I understand, the South Island teams that have been successful over the past few years have good strong depth through their lower teams where emphasis and effort is put into developing their depth and youth. Other successful North Island teams work hard to align the overall style of play between the first and second eleven so that each year when older players move on and newer players move up, the team culture and playing style is the same which allows them to transition into the group more easily”.

Talking about potential upsets from a North Island team, the North Shore’s Kristin School have been trying to do just that. For a small school they have always pushed those top teams at tournament but have just fallen short of causing those upsets. In 2015 they lost 1-0 to St Margaret’s College, a team who have placed third for the past 2 years as well as a second-place finish in 2015. Additionally, in 2016 they lost 2–1 to Rangi Ruru Girl’s School, a team who finished second in 2017 and went on to win in 2015.

“Having coached this side for eight years we have focused more on team culture and performance rather than the outcomes,” noted Kristin School 1st X1 co-coach James Coughlan. “Our overall goal at Kristin is that the players leave the school as better people than when they came in. Through that we’ve had great individual and team performances over the years with a pathway for players to develop. Eight have been selected into association and junior New Zealand teams over the last 5 years. This is a great achievement considering the size of the school in comparison to other schools in the Auckland region”.

“As James mentioned, team culture has been a huge building block which has created an enjoyable team dynamic for all of our team members,” Kirstin Pearce, Kristin 1st X1 co-coach and current Black Stick, adds. “It’s also encouraging to see a number of these players continuing to give back to the school in some way whilst either still at school or since leaving.”

After a year in the 2017 Marie Fry Tournament, Kristin School will be looking to fight their way back into the Federation Cup with the ultimate goal of contesting the very best teams.

Looking at the calibre of teams and school girls ready to take to the pitch, this year is sure to see a battle of the Islands at both the Aon Federation Cup and Marie Fry Trophy Tournaments. Whangarei is the place to watch these schools go head-to-head from September 3rd – 8th.

The schedule and results for all the secondary school tournaments can be found here. Both the gold medal and bronze medal matches for the Aon Federation Cup will be streamed live via the Hockey New Zealand Facebook page.

Posted on Friday, 26 October, 2018 | Secondary Schools