Girls team finishes year undefeated
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.
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.