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In the final round of the regular season, the game of the week shaped as a pseudo semifinal for the Otago premier women’s hockey competition.
Second-placed University A needed just a single point from the match to reach the final, while third-placed Momona needed to win the game outright to meet City in the title decider for the third year straight.
A match of such importance made both sides quite nervous and the pressure led to some basic mistakes. As the settling-in period gave way to a more regular pattern, it was clear Momona was the more aggressive side and had it not been for some questionable shot selection, it would have taken the lead.
Last year’s beaten finalist continued to be the better side and the University defence was struggling to clear from its own end, despite admirable scrambling defence. Eventually, the pressure told and Liv Preston scored the first for the girls in red.
The Huskies were not without their own chances in the first half but their attacking forays were often brief and lacking execution. They also started the second half the stronger and controlled all the possession for 10 minutes but were unable to convert. Momona doubled its lead through a Matisse Uluilelata deflection from a penalty corner with about 20 minutes to play. University responded by lifting its intensity and pushing harder in attack but the organised Momona defence, led by Lydia Shirley, was not in the mood to allow a comeback. Apart from an unsuccessful PC with eight minutes on the clock, University could not break through. Taylor Waddington put the icing on the cake for Momona in the last two minutes and it won 3-0. Momona will play points trophy winner City in the big dance next weekend for the title. The Highlanders had a comfortable 6-0 win over last-placed University B to warm up for that game, as well as holding on to the challenge shield for the summer, while fifth-placed Kings United somewhat upset Taieri Tigers 2-1 in the other game. University A will have to settle for playing Taieri for third place.
- Matthew West