The youngest team in the tournament did well to bond together and snatch silver at the underwater hockey nationals in Wellington.
The Mahurangi College junior girls underwater hockey team brought home the silver medal from the nationals held in Wellington this month.
The team, coached by Jorgia Bays, was made up of five players in their third season and five who were new to the set-up, making them the youngest junior girls side in Auckland.
“The team bonded both in and out of the pool, and the way the new players mixed in was what made us strong,” Jorgia says.
“We lost the final because after we conceded a goal we lost it mentally and were a bit all over the place.”
The girls were downed by Diocesan A in the final 3-1 after going up a goal before conceding two from open play and a penalty shot.
The side had previously qualified in second place at regionals, again behind Diocesan A.
“I thought we would place top four at regionals but after we came second, I was confident we could get top four at nationals,” Jorgia says.
“I got a bit nervous when five of our girls were injured during the training period, but it didn’t cause any difficulties during the tournament.”
After the tournament, three Mahurangi players made ‘dream team’ – goalie Rowan Buick, centre MacKenzie Buick and forward Emma North – making them the top players in those positions.
Rowan Buick also received the Most Valuable Player Award and MacKenzie was the team’s highest goal scorer. Jorgia received the Coach of the Year award across all grades.
“It was wicked and very rewarding to receive this award with such a young team.
“I was the only junior girls coach who doesn’t represent New Zealand in underwater hockey.”
Jorgia thanked team manager Amy Oberkircher for her support and organisation.
The other Mahurangi team to compete at the nationals was the senior open side, who finished sixth.
The tournament was held at the Wellington Aquatic Centre, from September 2 to 4.