Whanganui has provided the experience in both the unbeaten boys' and girls' Central U18 squads as the national tournament in Wellington moved into Day Three on Tuesday.
Old hands Rebecca Baker and Sophie Redmayne played their part in the 3-2 win over Capital and the 6-2 thrashing of Northland, while Patrick Madder and Central newcomer Connor Hoskin have provided the Whanganui polish in the Central boys' 4-3 win over North Harbour and close shootout victory over Capital.
Both Central sides led their respective pools going into battle for the final pool play matches late Tuesday afternoon. The boys were to play Southern, while the girls were to shape up against North Harbour in their bid for a tournament three-peat. Last season the boys finished fourth.
Central U18 boys team manager Darrell Hoskin said while no Whanganui players scored goals in the early games in either side (other than the boys shootout), they certainly made their presence felt.
"Rebecca and Sophie always influence games and have played well, while Paddy and Connor are doing well for the boys," Hoskin said.
"It was particularly close in the boys game against Capital. We were nil-all at fulltime and under the rules it goes to a best of five 8-second shootout. Five players are selected and each has 8 seconds to score in a one-on-one with the goalie. It ended with a 2-2 draw after the first shootout, so went to sudden death.
"Wellington [Capital] went first and missed, but we didn't so we won the match," Hoskin said.
Meanwhile, players not making their regional representative sides gathered to play in the national association's under-18 tournament with Whanganui fielding a boys team at Pukekohe.
Coached by former Black Sticks player Robbie Matthews, the Whanganui boys had an early 4-3 loss to Bay Of Plenty and were to play Hawke's Bay late Tuesday afternoon.
"Whanganui has done well to field a full team at this tournament, when other larger provinces haven't," Matthews said.
"Manawatū, for instance, have fielded a Manawatū/Horowhenua combined team. We did very well in pre-tournament friendlies beating Poverty Bay 8-nil and Hawke's Bay 7-nil.
Whanganui finished 13th in this tournament last season, so we're hoping to go better this time round," Matthews said.