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Dalefield dethroned after seven years on top

It’s been an up-and-down season for first-year player-coach Benedict van Woerkom, centre. PHOTO/FILE


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For the first time in seven years, Farriers Dalefield won’t contest the Wellington Premier Men’s Championship final.

The two-time defending champions were bundled out of title contention by old foes Hutt United at the National Hockey Stadium on Saturday.

The loss was only the third of the season for top qualifiers Dalefield, but two of those have come in the crucial playoff games, against Harbour City the previous Saturday and against Hutt.

“It’s been an up-and-down season,” said player coach Benedict van Woerkom.

“We’ve had guys in and out with injuries and guys away with other commitments, and the commitment levels of some guys haven’t quite been there, and it just wasn’t meant to be.

“If you look at the big picture, we still had a successful season. We’ve lost three games, but it’s just that we lost the games that matter.”

Not for the first time this season, Dalefield failed to make the most of their attacking opportunities.

Hutt took the early lead, only for Graeme Murrell to equalise with a drag flick from a penalty corner [PC] in Dalefield’s first attacking foray.

An uncanny goal from a PC, which dribbled into the goal from a miss-drag, gave Hutt a 2-1 halftime lead. Marcus Ambrose made the score 2-2 through a PC, and Dalefield had opportunities to take the lead with more PCs but couldn’t convert.

Van Woerkom said the misses proved vital.

“We would probably have been comfortable to shut out the game, but Hutt went 3-2 up in the third quarter from a PC, and then we had a few more PCs after that but couldn’t execute.

“We had more than enough opportunities last week and this week, and we conceded some soft goals, which were a killer.”

Dalefield will now play Indians in a third-fourth place match, and van Woerkom said they’ll also be there to support the Dalefield women in their quest for back-to-back titles.

In the women’s final, Dalefield will play Harbour City, who won a 3-2 shootout over Hutt United, who have had a run of seven successive finals’ appearances without winning one.

Dalefield warmed up for the final with a 3-1 win over Northern United at Clareville.

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