Felicity Reidy [No 5] celebrates a goal in Dalefield’s 5-2 win. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

HOCKEY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

The Dalefield teams had convincing wins over Harbour City to kick-off their Wellington Premier League competitions at Clareville on Saturday.

The men started their title defence with a 9-0 thumping; while the women came from two goals down to beat the defending champions 5-2.

The rustiness was evident in a cautious start by the men, but they never looked in danger and a blowout score seemed inevitable against last year’s fourth-placed team.

Despite a wealth of possession and territory, Dalefield only led 2-0 after the first quarter through goals to Zac Hardie and Alex Sumenko-Bucknell. A Dane Lett goal from a penalty corner extended the lead to three at the halftime break.

Alex Sumenko-Bucknell scored a brace in Dalefield’s 9-0 win.

Benedict van Woerkom, captain Rowan Yeo, Sumenko-Bucknell and Nathan Whiteman added goals in the third stanza, before Jordan Cohen and Dylan Price wrapped up the scoring in the final quarter.

Yeo was rapt with the outcome despite the slow start.

“It was ideal eh? We passed the pill around and scored a lot of goals,” he said. “We’ll take the three points and a good couple of team goals in there as well.”

Yeo said as expected after the covid-19 enforced disruption to the season it took time to gel.

“It sort of took until about the third quarter before we started getting into our stride … but everybody’s on the same page.”

Dalefield are scheduled to have the bye in the seven-team competition next Saturday, and Yeo was hoping they could organise a game, possibly against a Manawatu club side.

“We’re playing it a bit by ear; we’ve been getting a lot out of our training, but another extra training game would be ideal.”

The prospects of the women starting their season on a winning note were looking grim after three minutes; with Harbour City taking advantage of some tentative defence for a 2-0 lead.

Dalefield dominated the rest of the first half and led 3-2 at the main break. A goal from a penalty corner made it 4-2 after three quarters, with the fifth added in the final quarter.

Coach Michael O’Connor said it was a good effort after “a bit of a twitchy start”.

“The first 30 seconds were really good for us and then the next two minutes we were a bit shell-shocked and panicked a bit, and then everybody just calmed down and we got into the game,” he said.

“We’ve only really had the two trainings as a team and to knock over last year’s champions is really positive.

“It was a real good attitude, like the girls were just backing each other up and giving each other a pat on the back.”

Player-assistant coach Katherine van Woerkom and Felicity Reidy each scored two goals and Reese Robertson scored one goal.

O’Connor said it was difficult to single out any individuals.

“I thought all our strikers played really well and did a lot of running for the first game up. Keyana Dawson was our player of the day today. She was at the back mainly, but she was calm and cool.”