Waikato bat­tles Fire to win ti­tle

Cambridge Edition - - FRONT PAGE - RO EDGE

For the first time in 15 years, the Fiona Clark Tro­phy for the Un­der 15 Girls Aus­tralian Na­tional Lacrosse Net­work Cham­pi­onship is head­ing across the ditch to New Zealand.

The Waikato team, coached by Cam­bridge’s Dean For­man and Melissa Gratwicke, won the tro­phy af­ter de­feat­ing the Fire team from Lacrosse Vic­to­ria in the fi­nal in Perth on Sun­day.

It was the fourth year the Waikato Lacrosse As­so­ci­a­tion had sent an Un­der 15s team to play in the Aus­tralian na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

The Waikato fin­ished in 3rd place in 2016.

This year the Waikato team per­formed strongly through­out the en­tire tour­na­ment fin­ish­ing top of the leader board.

Co-cap­tain Keita Perry was a force with four goals in the first half of the fi­nal against the Fire.

But the en­tire team lifted its in­ten­sity and strong de­fen­sive play held the Fire back from lev­el­ling the score near the end of the game.

A last-minute goal by mid field power house Brooke Bol­stad made sure of the vic­tory for the Waikato girls.

Many of the play­ers in the Waikato team were still in just their sec­ond sea­son play­ing lacrosse. Only six play­ers re­turned from 2016, so coaches kept the train­ing strat­egy sim­ple.

It was about tweak­ing in­di­vid­ual fun­da­men­tal skills, learn­ing de­fen­sive struc­tures and off ball mo­tions on of­fence.

For­man also coaches the Cam­bridge High School team and Gratwicke is one of the se­nior play­ers in the squad.

The coaches wanted their Wai- kato play­ers to use their nat­u­ral in­stincts when it came to en­coun­ter­ing play at the tour­na­ment. Their big­gest em­pha­sis was on creat­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where the girls en­joyed lacrosse.

Their time and ex­pe­ri­ence to­gether dur­ing the New Zealand rep­re­sen­ta­tive sea­son and in the Aus­tralian Lacrosse Net­works Na­tional Cham­pi­onships has cre­ated a close-knit group which played with ex­cel­lent chem­istry, and it has cer­tainly de­liv­ered re­sults.

The team had proved how com­pet­i­tive they could now be at an in­ter­na­tional level, just as the New Zealand Women’s Lacrosse team did at the re­cent World Cup in Eng­land, where they fin­ished in 8th place.

PENNY SNED­DON/SUPPLIED

The vic­to­ri­ous Waikato Un­der 15 girls lacrosse team coached by Melissa Gratwicke and Dean For­man, af­ter win­ning the fi­nal in Perth.

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