Girls team fin­ishes year un­de­feated

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

A sweet win for the Mt Al­bert Gram­mar girls touch team has erased the bit­ter taste of three years of de­feat at the na­tional sec­ondary school cham­pi­onships.

The team fin­ish the year un­de­feated at both re­gional and na­tional level.

They re­turned to the com­pe­ti­tion this year with a more com­posed and com­plete team tak­ing out de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Hamil­ton Girls High School in a nail­bit­ing fi­nal that came down to a three­player drop-off.

But the real de­cider was who wanted it more, Mt Al­bert Gram­mar touch cap­tain Shan­non Leota says.

‘‘We had that greater de­sire for the win be­cause we knew the feel­ing of los­ing last year.

‘‘We just really, really wanted it so we weren’t go­ing to come away with any­thing less than a gold.’’

Na­dia Loveday stormed over the line at the drop-off to see the team take the match 7-6 and the ti­tle of na­tional cham­pi­ons.

It could have eas­ily been a re­peat of last year’s fi­nal which saw both teams bat­tling it out for the ti­tle only for Hamil­ton to steal the win, 17-year-old Leota says.

‘‘Last year un­der that pres­sure we might have cracked, we would have pan­icked, but this year our main tar­get for this tour­na­ment was just to stay com­posed and calm and it gave us that last push that we needed.’’

The vic­tory is the cherry on top af­ter four years of com­mit­ment from the 15-strong squad, their coach Ju­nior Fiu and team man­ager Bernie Pone .

De­feat at last year’s na­tion­als was tough to swal­low af­ter dom­i­nat­ing the sea­son, Fiu says.

‘‘We were pretty dev­as­tated but from that day we started work­ing to­wards next year straight­away and worked off of that dis­ap­point­ment. It was all about get­ting into their heads and giv­ing them that self-be­lief.’’

And it has paid off with an un­de­feated sea­son and Loveday, Des­tiny Grace and Vic­to­ria Pone named in the na­tional sec­ondary schools tour­na­ment team.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Na­tional cham­pi­ons: Mt Al­bert Gram­mar’s touch play­ers, from left: Shan­non Leota, Na­dia Loveday, Des­tiny Grace, Vic­to­ria Pone and Glo­ria Mur­ray-Fiu helped their team win the New Zealand sec­ondary school champs.

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