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Dio students help defend Midlands Hockey title

posted 5 Jul 2015, 15:50 by Debbie Stevens
A title defence is on the cards for the Midlands under-18 women's hockey team heading to the national tournament on Saturday.

Defending champions Midlands boast a strong, deep squad for the tournament, with New Zealand wider junior World Cup squad members Alex Lukin and Acacia Kelsen in the mix.

Coach Nyree Hanna said the team is in a good space heading into the tournament, which starts on Sunday and finishes next Saturday.

"You have to go into any tournament believing you can win it, and certainly with goals set high and with a really strong mind set," Hanna said.

"We are pleased with where we have got to."

One of the biggest focuses for the team has been fitness, and Hanna said her team is easily fit enough to win matches at this level.

She said the pool matches will be tough, with North Harbour, Central and Northland standing between Midlands and progress to the big matches at the end of the week.

"We haven't played Northland in the build-up, but we played both Central and North Harbour so we know a bit about them which does help.

"I don't think at the under-18 regional level there are ever any easy games, and games can go either way. At this age group they are still developing, so there is still a bit of an unknown."

Lukin, one of the stars of the Midlands team, said the highlight of her hockey career to date was last year's tournament victory for the under-18 side, and hopes they can go back-to-back.

"We're all really excited to play and hopefully we can do what we did last year," the 17-year-old said.

"Playing for Midlands is amazing. It's the atmosphere of playing for Midlands that I like the most. It's such a professional group of girls and coaches."

Hanna is confident that there will be strong "orange-clad" support for both Midlands sides on the North Shore, with the men's team seeded second after losing to Canterbury in last year's final.

"Certainly being quite close to home, there will be some parents that will make the trip up the motorway on a daily basis. Seeing the ground full of orange is huge for us." 

Hanna expects Lukin to be the player to watch in the Midlands team, given her ability to control a game in the middle of the park.

AT A GLANCE:

Midlands under-18 women: Jessie Brant (WDSG), Hazel Burroughs, Siennah Cowles, Julia Ebert (WDSG), Abby Furmage, Acacia Kelsen, Kelsey Lewis, Alex Lukin (WDSG), Annie McNaughtan, Chloe Nesbitt (WDSG), Jess Nicholson (WDSG), Tori Robinson, Olivia Scotland, Zoe Summers, Lorrin Tiedt, Anzel Viljoen, Yazzmine Woodhouse, Deborah Yung.

Copy courtesy of Stuff

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