The Springfield Hockey Club is in contention for two premier trophies on Saturday night after its premier women's and men's teams qualified for the finals over the weekend.
Springfield's premier women's team, who finished top by eight points after the regular season's 15 games, convincingly beat Old Girls 6-1 on Saturday in their semifinal at the Northland Hockey Centre in Whangārei. They will go up against Maungakaramea who beat Whangārei Girls' High School (WGHS) 3-0 in the other semifinal.
Old Girls started the game well with a goal in the opening quarter to take the lead. However, Springfield kicked into gear in the second quarter, scoring from three penalty corners to lead 3-1 at halftime.
Springfield had clearly recovered from a nervous start as they added another goal from a penalty corner and two field goals in the second half to finish the game with a 6-1 win.
"They seemed very nervous, even in the team talk I could feel nervous vibes so we had a very scratchy start," Springfield women's coach Angeline Waetford said.
"Fortunately for us, we scored three penalty corners [in the second quarter] so I think that definitely messed with Old Girls' heads."
Waetford said she wasn't worried about her side's slow start on Saturday, but she knew they needed to prepare properly ahead of the final.
"If you haven't got nerves it's like you don't care, so it's important [to have them], but they need to know how to handle them, and in the warm-up they should get in the groove."
After winning their first six games of the 2019 season, Springfield looked the team to beat. However, in their most recent six regular-season games the team registered two wins, two draws and two losses.
While she was disappointed in WGHS' effort against Maungakaramea, Waetford said their opponents this coming Saturday would be no easy-beats with a core of quality players.
"Finals are always going to be tough so again it'll be a good game and anything could happen."
Out of four men's and four women's teams, Springfield will have five teams play in various finals on Saturday. One of them will be Springfield's premier men's team, who toppled Whangārei Boys' High School (WBHS) in their semifinal, 5-1 on Saturday.
After a tight start where the schoolboys had the upper hand, Springfield flexed their scoring muscles with five goals across the second and third quarters. WBHS managed to peg one back in the third quarter but were unable to kick on in the final quarter.
Springfield coach Grant McLeod said the performance was a good one which built on
skills being developed in training.
"We were pretty pleased to put the ball in the net that many times and I think there was some really good passing in the lead up to the goals, which is something we have focused on in the last few months."
Springfield will take on Mangapai in the premier men's final after the latter beat Maungakaramea 6-3 on Saturday. Mangapai have been unbeaten in 2019, only drawing once to Springfield.
McLeod said a good start would be vital against Mangapai who will be looking to prevent Springfield from backing up their premier men's title from 2018.
"It's going to be a tough game and hopefully the standard of the game will be good," he said.
"The two best teams in the competition are [in the final] and it's just about who fronts up on the day."