Brigette Mossman . . . welcome return to Dalefield. PHOTO/FILE
Dalefield are entering the unknown in their opening match of the Wellington women’s hockey premiership against Northern United at the National Hockey Stadium in Wellington today.
Northern United are a new team in the competition and Dalefield coach Michael O’Connor admits he “knows absolutely nothing about them”.
“Last year, we had a seven-team competition and I get the idea that they’ve been brought in to make an eight-team competition. I have no idea of their players or what to expect.”
After looking as if they would struggle for numbers a couple of months ago, O’Connor has assembled a useful squad of 15, based around a core group of experienced players and promising college players.
Captain Katherine van Woerkom and vice-captain Michael O’Connor, his daughter, are two players O’Connor is putting a lot of faith in.
“They’re the glue that keeps the team together, they’re consistent, they lead by example and they know what it takes to win”.
Van Woerkom and O’Connor were members of the Capital team who finished sixth in the 2018 National Hockey League.
Brigette Mossman is a welcome return after missing most of the 2018 season with injury.
The star forward was arguably the team’s biggest attacking threat in Dalefield’s 2016 and 2017 championship-winning teams.
Mossman has also represented Capital Hockey at Under-21 level in 2018.
Chloe Frederiksen is a past member of successful Wairarapa College teams and is returning to the region after several years away. She will travel from Taupo for the early matches.
O’Connor described Frederiksen as “a good strong player with a nice pass. She will add a lot to the team”.
Libby Nomea is another newcomer to the team, taking a step up from the Dalefield local league team.
Sisters Kirsty and Jenna Anderson are quality players O’Connor is hopeful will be available from time to time when work commitments allow.
Much of the interest, however, will focus on the performance of the college pupils, and they will face the pressure straight away.
O’Connor said: “Six of the seven schoolgirls will probably be starting. They’re really good talents, and I have no fears about them stepping up.”
He’s also confident of a positive start to the season.
“We’ve been working hard at training and the players have a really good attitude.”
Meanwhile, Dalefield men begin their campaign against familiar foes, Victoria, at the National Hockey Stadium.
Co-manager Bernie Lett is unsure of what to expect with the demise of Kapiti leaving a seven-team competition.
“There’s been a lot of player movement and it’s hard to say what the teams will be like.”
If anything, Dalefield are stronger than 2018 and Lett is confident they have the depth to come away with a first-up victory.
Dalefield are likely to be at full strength. Much of the play will centre around player-coach, and Black Stick, Dane Lett.
He will get plenty of support from some highly-talented players such as Trent Lett, Ben van Woerkom, New Zealand Under-18 squad member Ethan Presow, and Rowan Yeo.