Waikato wins Australian lacrosse title
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, Hamilton Girls High School, 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 Waikato 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.
Waikato Under 15s Girls Lacrosse cocaptains Jaime Granich (left) and Keita Perry with Australian Pacific Lacrosse Union Executive Director Fiona Clark (centre).