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Young side facing baptism of fire

Kristy Anderson . . . prolific goal-scorer. PHOTO/FILE

WOMEN’S HOCKEY
GARY CAFFELL
History suggests Dalefield will make a one-horse race of their opening Wellington premier division women’s hockey match with Kia Toa at Clareville on Saturday.
With Dalefield shooting for a three-peat of premier division titles, and Kia Toa invariably on the receiving end of hefty defeats when they have clashed over the past couple of seasons, it’s hard to imagine anything other than another big Dalefield win on this occasion.
This, though, could well be a case where appearances are at least slightly deceiving.
For while Dalefield still appeal as a formidable unit quite capable of being serious title contenders come the business end of the season, they are missing up to half of last year’s squad and consequently could be vulnerable early on as they build combinations.
Coach Michael O’Connor isn’t the type to make excuses, but he agrees that his new-look team, which contains several college players, might well take a little while to hit their straps.
“I think it’s fair to say the first few games are going to be a bit of learning curve in terms of what combinations are best for the type of hockey we want to play,” O’Connor said.
“We’re sure to be a bit rusty in places, that’s for sure.”
Several of the players who will take the field for Dalefield this Saturday are still at college, among them strikers Abby Crawley, Rosie Rooderkirk and Jaylin Dawson, defender Maya Champion and Anna Rossiter-Stead, who will share the goalkeeping duties with the experienced Sarah Crofoot.
A couple of notable acquisitions from Gladstone are striker Monique Edwards and defender Katie Smart and an ex-St Matthew’s player, Georgie Warren, who has returned from overseas and has the skills to be a force at the back or in midfield.
Returning from last year’s competition-winning squad are captain Katharine van Woerkom, who will very probably fill the pivotal central midfield role on a regular basis, the Anderson sisters, Kristy and Jenna, who are both prolific goal-scorers, Heni Metcalf and Amy McAnulty.
And they will also have the benefit of another proven goal-scorer Brigette Mossman for at least the first two games before she undergoes a knee operation which could possibly see her miss the rest of the season.

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