The Western Heights High School girls' first XI hockey team have capped off a Stellar 2018 season with a silver medal at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Aon Chica Gilmer Trophy.
The tournament, held in Pukekohe earlier this month, was a highlight in a season which also included winning the Banner Round and Okeroa Douglas Memorial Trophy in the local competition.
Okeroa Douglas was a Western Heights High hockey player who died in a car accident in 2011, so winning the trophy was particularly special for the Western Heights girls.
They went on to win the Bay of Plenty Championship trophy as well.
Coach Renee Ngatai said the silver medal at the national tournament was "pretty huge" and the girls had worked hard to get there.
"We've trained pretty much right from the start of term two and three nights a week we were out with hockey - training on Monday, playing on Tuesday in the local competition and Wednesday's in the Midlands competition."
In pool play, Western Heights beat Carmel College 7-0, Rangitoto College 1-0 and Paraparaumu College 3-1.
They beat Rosehill College 1-0 in the quarter-finals and then local rivals Taupō-nui-a-Tia College 1-0 in the semifinal to book a spot against Baradene College in the gold medal match.
Western Heights lost 3-2 in the final and Ngatai said it was a match which could easily have gone either way.
"It was pretty much the team that fought to the end won it, I think our girls ran out of steam a bit at the end. The winning goal was scored within the last two or three minutes of the game.
"It was all about the players in that game. I told them to play for each other and for everyone who supported them on their journey to get there and pretty much to just have fun. We'd done all the hard work which is what got us there."
The second place finish means Western Heights will return to top division hockey for next year's tournament.
"You could tell they were a bit disappointed after the final, especially the senior girls who had just played their last game. But, I think the huge thing for them is, because they finished in the top two, they're back in the first division, the top tier tournament for secondary school girls' hockey. That was a massive goal and the silver medal was the cherry on top."
She said playing in the Midlands competition, against teams from Tauranga and Waikato, was good preparation for the Chica Gilmer Trophy tournament.
"You've pretty much got the best teams in New Zealand, just about, playing in the Midlands. We actually had more wins and draws than losses, so that was pleasing, and I think we finished about sixth.
"Considering the schools that are in that Midlands competition it was quite a huge achievement and I was happy with how the girls performed.
"We've got quite a young team with the first XI, there are a few Year 9s and 10s already in the team, and in our second XI we have a few that will be coming into the first XI for next year."
Ngatai was proud of the effort her team put in this season.
"They're very dedicated, committed, will give anything and pretty much the majority of the team live for hockey.
"[At the Chica Gilmer tournament] they definitely had to dig deep in pool play and play for each other, knowing we had to be top two in our pool to go through. Every game leading up to the final was a big one and they handled it really well."