The Midlands Intercity Hockey Championship is nearing a close with only one local side playing off for a third-place spot this weekend.
On Saturday a resolute Mount Maunganui team travelled to Hamilton to contest the women's semifinal against Fraser Tech. Mount were determined to prove they were good enough to reach this week's final, having won the first round but then failing to follow up during the championship round and qualifying in fourth place prior to the semifinals.
By the end of the first half it wasn't looking good for Mount Maunganui, with Kayla Wilson scoring early for a dominant Fraser Tech and Alia Jacques slotting a penalty stroke right on half-time. After the interval Tech were put on the back foot as the tempo of Mount's game increased.
Read more: Bay of Plenty hockey youngsters impress
In the third quarter Mount Maunganui's Viola Schaff scored twice from penalty corners within a few minutes. With scores level, the last quarter was a tense battle but neither team could find the winning goal. The penalty shootout was extremely close, but Fraser Tech converted all five of theirs while Mount netted four times.
Mount's coach Narayan Singh said they did not allow Tech to play how they are used to playing. "They became vulnerable at the back, and unable to get the go-forward they wanted," he said. "I was very happy with how the girls played."
Mount Maunganui will now play off for third place in the Women's Intercity Cup at Hamilton this Saturday.
Tech's coach Matt Scoble said his team should have scored more goals in the first half, but Mount's goalie Isla Johnson was particularly dominant. He also highlighted the warm temperatures, with players asking to be substituted in order to rest and rehydrate. He was pleased with the win but acknowledged Rotorua's Aces will not be easy to beat in the final.
Rotorua Aces triumphed over Waikato University in the other semifinal, with Parekura Rangitauira scoring the vital goal in the 60th minute for a 3-2 win. Fraser Tech will meet the Aces in the women's final at Hamilton this Saturday at 3.45pm.
The Otumoetai women's team hosted Hamilton Old Girls in their last match of the Intercity season and drew 1-all to finish fifth equal. Kirsty Laurence scored for Old Girls and Natasha Leong for Otumoetai.
In the men's semifinals, Hamilton Old Boys comfortably beat Kohekohe 4-1.
Meanwhile, BOP Indians led 2-0 against Collegians at the turn, then allowed the 2017 Intercity champions to grab a 3-2 win and a berth in the final this Saturday.
The playoff for third place in the men's plate saw Tauranga Old Boys and Otumoetai facing off at the Tauranga Hockey Centre. Old Boys took the honours 6-3, assisted by a hat-trick from Abir Mukherjee.
Women's Cup Championship:
Fraser Tech 2+5 Mt Maunganui 2+4, HT 2-0; Rotorua Aces 3 University 2, HT 1-0; Hamilton Old Girls 1 Otumoetai 1, HT 1-0.
Men's Cup Championship:
Hamilton Old Boys 4 Kohekohe 1; Collegians 3 BOP Indians 2; University 4 Te Awamutu 0; Fraser Tech 1 Pukekohe Indians 1.
Women's Plate Competition:
Marist 6 Te Awamutu 2; Waiau Pa 4 Suburbs 0.
Men's Plate Competition:
Tauranga Old Boys 6 Otumoetai 3, HT 5-2. Plate final to be played this Saturday: Suburbs vs Aces.