A tournament MVP performance from Jessie Anderson has led the Canterbury under 21 women’s hockey side to back to back national titles.
Having drawn against North Harbour, then losing in the shootout the day before, Canterbury needed to beat Auckland in the final match of the tournament to secure the gold medal, and Anderson, like she had for much of the week, took the challenge up front and rattled the backboard to help secure a stunning 5-nil victory.
Margot Willis also featured on the goal scorers sheet, as she had in all games bar one, earning her joint top goal scorer with 7 goals.
Anderson was quick to deflect any praise to the likes of Willis and the core group of players who had tasted victory the year before. “It was a special feeling winning back to back titles, especially for six of us in our final year. It was also special receiving the MVP award from the new Black Sticks coach, but I think many of our team were deserving of it as everyone played exceptionally well.”
Anderson reflected on the long standing connections the team had developed, “having a core of us who have played together for a few years, it made it easier with how we linked and played as a team. However, our new players brought new concepts to the team which was exciting. We played a really good brand of team hockey all week and our team culture had a huge part to play in our performance and success over the week.”
The North Harbour turf holds a special place for Anderson, who won the Federation Cup with Villa Maria College back in 2016, alongside long-time teammate and last year’s MVP Georgie MacKay Stewart, as well as Canterbury Captain Claire Bamford and Maddy Wotton.
Under the tutelage of Sue Innes again, the Canterbury side performed exceptionally well, scoring 22 goals in total and only conceeding two. With husband Andy on board this year and 11 of the current group set to be available next year, you wouldn’t bet against them giving the three-peat a decent crack next year.
For now though its back to club and a quick rest up before NHL trials in a few weeks’ time.
The U21 men put themselves into medal contention with a strong first half of the week, claiming shootout victories against defending champions North Harbour and Auckland, and beating Midlands. In both shootout victories, the side led their opponents by two goals but weren’t able to close out the matches to secure maximum points.
They came unstuck in the Mainland derby against Southern losing 3-1 but were still in with a sniff of a medal heading into the final day. Eventual champions Capital proved a tough ask, Canterbury going down in a thrilling 3-2 contest which left them having to settle for fourth place for the second year running.
Moss Jackson had a good week in front of goal, nabbing four goals, while Tom Nicholls fired home three dragflicks in his first tournament wearing red and black.
6-1 vs Southern
4-0 vs Capital
4-0 vs Midlands
3-0 vs Canterbury
1-1 vs North Harbour (1-3 shootout)
5-0 vs Auckland
2-2 vs Auckland (1-0 shootout)
3-1 vs Midlands
3-3 vs North Habour (4-2 shootout)
1-3 vs Southern
4-0 vs Central
2-3 vs Capital