A slight stumble at the penultimate hurdle may have cost the Wanganui girls victory at the Rawleighs Under-13 hockey tournament in Napier.
The Aaron Manville-coached side went down 2-nil to eventual winners Hawkes Bay on Wednesday evening to post their only loss of the four-day competition.
They then bounced back to topple Manawatu 4-1 morning before an agonising wait to see the outcome of the Wellington/Hawkes Bay match.
Hawkes Bay won that encounter 3-1 to take the title leaving Wanganui and Wellington tied for second.
The girls were forced to wait yet again while organisers tallied up the countback statistics. Wellington go the nod for second by the barest of margins relegating Wanganui to third and the same spot they finished in last season.
"It was disappointing, but with our second place two years ago we were happy enough to have a top three finish three years running," Manville said.
"They really went over the countback figures before finally awarding second to Wellington and who knows what might have happened if we'd beaten Hawkes Bay on Wednesday."
"The game against Hawkes Bay started with a downer with Gretzky, aka Gretel Murphy unfortunately, out for rest of tournament with a stress fracture which is a massive loss for the team as she has had a brilliant week with ball on stick and in defence all week," Manville said.
"Several other players required strapping of some sort including leading goal scorer for the week Maggie Jones after she caught the hook of a Rangitikei stick in the Wednesday morning game on her wrist.
"While Gretel was meant to be out for the rest of the tournament she came on for a wee cameo in our game against Manawatu and slotted a penalty corner before hobbling back off - it was a nice touch."
Grace Palazo and Jones' two goals gave them the 4-1 win.
Captain Charlotte Baker was named Wanganui Most Valuable Player after an outstanding week on turf.
"All the girls really stepped up, but Charlotte did stand out, she had an awesome week.
Meanwhile, Rangitikei wilted late and a 5-0 loss to Wellington on Wednesday and a nil-all draw on Thursday with Wairarapa relegated then to fourth over all.
Manager Phillipa Managh the girls played their hearts out, but couldn't break the Wairarapa defence which she described as fantastic. MVP was Jade Guiniven.
The Wanganui boys were to play off for 9th to 16th against Counties-Manukau in crossover play in the Hatch Cup U13 national tournament in Auckland late Thursday after a 5-0 loss to Canterbury on Wednesday. Wanganui was sitting fourth of five in Pool A, while Counties-Manukau was third in Pool C.
There are 24 teams competing in the Hatch Cup competition.