Dalefield’s Kristy Anderson, right, tangles with a Victoria University player during Dalefield’s 2-0 win on Saturday. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

HOCKEY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

The Farriers Dalefield premier women’s hockey team navigated their way past a tricky opponent on Saturday and put themselves in prime position to secure top spot heading into the play-offs.

Dalefield hosted Victoria University at Clareville and secured a 2-0 win on the back of an impressive defensive performance.

Morgan Percy scored Dalefield’s first from a deflection off a penalty corner, and Katherine van Woerkom added another in the third quarter to give them some breathing space.

Coach Michael O’Connor said it was a pleasing result against an opponent they had always found tough in the past.

“It was always going to be a tough game and it was pretty tough all the way through, but we did well.

“We talked before the game about not wanting to concede a goal and I thought we did really well not to do that.”

Loren Hartnell was called into the squad in the absence of both regular goalkeepers and produced an assured display at the back.

“She did great, especially in the last 10 minutes when they pressed us really hard,” O’Connor said.

“They got into our circle a bit and she dived around all over the place and played her heart out.”

Dalefield made a couple of positional changes from their regular line-up, with van Woerkom moving back into a defender role and O’Connor’s daughter, Michael O’Connor, moving forward into centre half.

He said the changes had worked well for the team.

“Along with Morgan in the midfield, I think they tidied up a few things that had been a bit of a problem for us in the last few weeks.

“The game looked a lot tidier with those three in those roles.

“That was really pleasing, and our attackers played really well.”

O’Connor said van Woerkom organised things expertly from the back, and that leadership would be vital moving towards the play-offs.

“They kept things nice and tight for us.

“We can’t be leaking goals when we get to the play-offs.”

Jenna Anderson was Dalefield’s player of the match.

They will now have a week off before heading into a tough double header on July 20 and 21 – the final weekend of the regular season.

On the Friday night they will play second-placed Harbour City in Wellington, and then on the Saturday they will host third-placed Hutt United at Clareville.

One win from those two matches should be enough to secure top spot heading into the play-offs.

“We’re going okay – we can always be better but we need to keep tracking along,” O’Connor said.

The Farriers Dalefield premier men’s team kept their narrow lead at the top of the standings with a 4-1 win over Naenae at Clareville on Saturday.

Dalefield have a one-point lead over Hutt United, but could lose that lead this weekend as they have a weekend off.

The two teams will then meet in the final round of regular season matches on July 21, with the winner likely to finish at the top of the standings.

The top two teams get two lives once the play-offs start, so finishing in top position isn’t vital, but it may mean the game is played at Clareville, rather than Wellington, and that is an advantage Dalefield will be keen to make the most of.