Under-21 Men beat Canterbury and take gold; women finish a creditable fifth
Congratulations to the Sporting Edge Capital “Baby Cobras” who sewed up the 2019 Under-21 title at Albany with a sometimes nail-biting win over Canterbury in the first game on Saturday morning. Knowing victory would mean they could not be caught by teams playing later, Capital again started well with Liam Mortimer scoring his fourth goal of the week after just eight minutes. The ever-menacing Sajan Patel struck again five minutes into the second quarter and Capital led 2-0 at half-time.
Sajan made that 3-0 soon after the resumption with his eighth tournament goal, but NZ Under-18 squad member Tom Nicholls opened Canterbury’s account from a penalty corner three minutes later. The score remained unchanged until mid-way through the final stanza when Nicholls drove home his second from another short corner. Canterbury continued to press hard, which meant the final eight minutes were tense ones for Capital. However the players had been in that situation before and knew exactly how to deal with it, denying Canterbury genuine scoring opportunities until the final whistle sounded.
It was Capital’s fifth win in a row after losing 3-1 to home side North Harbour in the opening clash, and they finished a single point ahead of their hosts and defending champions. Southern beat Auckland 2-1 in their final game to finish third and Canterbury were fourth.
Capital players scored 22 goals at the tournament, seven more than next best Canterbury; and while they conceded 11 goals compared to seven by North Harbour, their goal difference of 11 was four better than Harbour’s.
Sajan Patel’s eight goals were the most by anyone at the tournament and he scored in every game. Liam Mortimer and Callum Olsen both notched four, with the other goal-scorers being Hiren Mani (2), Jack Boon (2), Jack Rider and Rio Tuson.
Capital played as a team throughout, superbly executing the clear game plans laid out by coaches Dane Lett and Benedict van Woerkom. They were well led by co-captains Lochie Paton and Will Stables, with Lochie receiving the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. The team developed a strong spirit, with all 18 players making significant contributions. Liam Mortimer and Jordan Cohen showed plenty of classy touches, the experienced Jacob Harp was always solid at the back, while 18-year-old goalkeepers Casey Gill and Harrison Groom were both safe and calm last lines of defence.
The team was well managed by Murray Mortimer, while physio Nitin Bhikha helped greatly with massages and recovery. .
Final points - Men
Capital 20, North Harbour 19, Southern 16, Canterbury 12, Auckland 8, Midlands 6, Central 0.
The Capital women’s campaign ended on a disappointing note with a 5-1 loss to North Harbour on the final morning. Harbour opened the scoring in just the second minute but Capital came back well and that was the only goal of the half. The third quarter proved decisive as two goals at the beginning and one at the end gave the hosts a telling advantage. Yazzmine Woodhouse did haul one back for Capital in the fourth quarter, but Harbour scored from a penalty corner in the final minute to compete a conclusive win.
Canterbury overwhelmed Auckland 5-0 later in the day to go through undefeated and retain the Under-21 title ahead of North Harbour and Central.
Capital finished with just one win, the outstanding 5-2 victory over Auckland on the first day. They also drew with Southern and Midlands, winning the shootout in each case. Their fifth placing was better than in recent tournaments and they showed they could complete with all but the very best teams. Leading scorer was Hutt United’s Jessica Kelly with six goals, four of them against Auckland. She finished just shy of the two leading scorers who each had seven. Other goal-scorers were Yazzmine Woodhouse (2), Estelle Macadre and Laura Jurgeleit.
The team was coached by Bjorn Dix, the manager was Malesha Wairau-Hunter, assisted by Lee Hunter and the physiotherapist was Lucy Pringle.
Final points - Women
Canterbury 21, North Harbour 18, Central 16, Auckland 12, Capital 8, Midlands 5, Southern 1
A special mention also goes to Capital umpires Tom Rutherford, Nathan Waddle and Kieran Wells who all acquitted themselves with distinction, during what was an intense week of competition.