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Dalefield turns dream into reality

By Gary Caffell
The dream became a reality when Dalefield pulled off the “double” in the Wellington premier division hockey finals at the National Hockey Stadium in Wellington on Saturday evening.
It seemed almost too much to expect for the small Clareville-based club to win the men’s and women’s titles in the same season, let alone on the same day, but they handled the pressure of the occasion magnificently.
Setting the scene were the women with their exciting 2-1 victory over Eastern Hutt in the first session of extra time, and then the men provided the icing on the cake with a more comfortable 5-3 victory over Hutt.
The powerful Eastern Hutt combination was always going to be a handful for the Dalefield women and when they went 1-0 up after just 10 minutes the acid was clearly on Dalefield to respond, and respond they did.
They clearly had the edge in territory and possession for the remainder of the match and created a number of prime scoring chances in the process.
In fact, Eastern Hutt did not force a penalty corner in the whole game while Dalefield had six.
A Brigette Mossman goal in the second half evened things up at 1-1 and the two teams were still level pegging at the end of ordinary time, meaning they went into a period of extra time with each side allowed only nine players on the field.
And it was Mossman who scored again to break the deadlock and seal what was a thoroughly deserved victory for Dalefield.
Coach Andy Wilson was not prepared to single out any individuals for special mention in his post-match comments, saying that all 16 members of the squad had played their full part in the victory.
“We went into the game knowing that it would take a total team effort to pull it off and that’s what we got,” Wilson said.
“We were strong defensively, the midfield worked well together and there was a lot of energy up front… it was teamwork that did it.”
Remarkably the title win came in Dalefield’s return to premier division play after an absence of several years and initially they were going to have to start in a lower grade.
However, the withdrawal of one of the regular premier division sides saw them invited to enter a team in that competition, and the rest, as they say, is history.
For the Dalefield men this season was all about proving that last year’s title win – the first ever for them – was no fluke, and they did it in the style of true champions.
Hutt did cause them some anxious moments in Saturday’s final, especially in the first and last 10 minutes, but for the majority of the game it was Dalefield calling the tune.
That was evidenced by the fact they led by a commanding 5-1 going into the closing stanzas.
Hutt did close that gap with two late goals but by then the bird had well and truly flown.
While coach Willie Schaefer was anticipating a strong challenge from Hutt he was always firm in his belief that if Dalefield played to anywhere near their potential they would win, and win well.
And, needless to say, he was rapt that for the greater part of the match they did exactly that.
“It was the sort of effort you want in a final, we created plenty of good scoring chances and we converted five of them into goals, when you do that you are always going to be hard to beat.”
Three of the Dalefield goals were scored by one of their most experienced campaigners in Rowan Yeo, with the others going to Joseph Robertson and Hamish Finlayson.

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