Kelsey Linton. PHOTO/FILE

HOCKEY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Dalefield coach Michael O’Connor is not underestimating the challenge facing his team in today’s Wellington Premier women’s hockey match against Hutt United at the National Hockey Stadium in Wellington.

Defending champs Hutt lead the championship, unbeaten on 10 points, while Dalefield are third on seven points, having suffered one loss, 0-4 to Harbour City.

O’Connor said his team must improve from last Saturday’s 3-0 win over Toa.

“Hutt are a bloody good side and they beat Harbour City. We know we have to do a lot better. We have to be more accurate with our passing and receiving the ball.”

He said Hutt had threats throughout the team. “We must think about them and close down their attack outside the circle.

“[Former Black Stick] Ani Roberts dominates in the middle of the field and they have five or six other players who we have to shut down.”

O’Connor is confident Dalefield can beat any team on their day.

“I think we’ve got a really good chance. We’ve got to have the right attitude and we can knock over any team, but we have to concentrate for the whole game.”

Captain and important midfield cog Katherine van Woerkom will miss today’s clash after suffering a nasty gash across the knee in the win over Toa.

However, the midfield is boosted with the return of Wairarapa College pupil Reese Robertson, who has impressed with her general all-round game and goal-scoring ability in early games.

O’Connor is also hopeful midfielder Kelsey Linton will make her first appearance of the season.

Linton was part of the 2016 and 2017 championship winning teams and is a past Capital NHL representative.

O’Connor said Linton would “add valuable experience in the midfield, although her availability is on “a week-by-week basis”.