Celtic GS Katarina Matapuku watches one of her shots in the win over Harcourts. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
Wairarapa College are on track to go back-to-back in the Premier One Championship with a dominant 11-goal victory over Jo Kelly and Co Carterton Maroon.
The defending champions hit their stride early in the game at the Trust House Wairarapa Netball Centre and although Carterton closed the gap, Waicol coach Keely Riwai-Couch always thought the students had the semifinal under control.
“Confidence grew through the game and we pulled away in possibly the third but definitely the fourth quarter and they were probably out of reach with a good 10 minutes to go,” Riwai-Couch said
“We go out there focusing on a four-quarter game and there was a little lull at one stage where Carterton got back in after we had been up by five or six and it got a bit closer, but going into the fourth quarter we had some really good composure and controlled the game well.”
Riwai-Couch felt the whole team played well and were very strong defensively.
“Everyone through the court linked in and looked after each other, which is what we’re after in that you look after your teammate.”
The injection of Jayla Brown into the midcourt also paid off, with her energy rattling the Carterton midcourt.
The win kicked off a busy week for Waicol, who were to play Hastings Girls’ High School and Naenae College yesterday in the first two rounds of the Lower North Island Secondary School Championships in Napier.
Celtic pulled off the upset of the season and progressed to their second consecutive final with a stunning seven-goal victory over old foes Harcourts.
Last year’s beaten finalists went into Friday night’s semifinal with an unflattering record of four wins from their 10 games and without a win over a top four team, whereas Harcourts were unbeaten.
That meant nothing though as Celtic made a strong start and took an early lead against a Harcourts side devoid of key players, including Vyktah Tamihana, who was competing at the men’s national championships.
Celtic player-coach Elleshia Clarkson said that after the team had built a solid lead after the first quarter, it was a matter of staying composed and maintaining focus throughout the four quarters, which was something the team had struggled to do.
“The Celtic girls executed the game plan and strategies that we have worked on throughout the season and we put it all on display on Friday night,” Clarkson said.
“It was an outstanding performance throughout the entire court. The defence rattled the shooters, the middies ran their hearts out and the shooters were accurate. It was truly a collective effort from all the girls, on and off the court.”
Celtic will be fired up to reverse last year’s final loss to Waicol, who prevailed 55-53 in a end-to-end thriller.