Inexperienced team has tough encounter first up

Southern Storm’s Emily McNaughtan pushes the ball forward, with  team mates Alice Sharples (left)...
Southern Storm’s Emily McNaughtan pushes the ball forward, with team mates Alice Sharples (left) and Sarah Thomas in support, as the team trains at the McMillan Centre this week. Photo: Gregor Richardson.
The Southern Storm has been combining well and making improvements but will get a tough examination first up when the National Hockey League starts at Wellington today.

The side is coached by former New Zealand international Tina Bell-Kake, who said although the side was light on experience it had been working hard on the training paddock.

Games against top boys’ school sides in Dunedin had benefits for the side, Bell-Kake said.

"Boys are good to play against as they use their speed a lot more. So for us, we haven’t got as much time on the ball and we have to get rid of it quicker," she said.

"We have to pass the ball faster, do things quicker, show some strength on the ball. I think we lacked that experience at the beginning, not played like that before. But in the last couple of games we were playing better and managed to win a couple."

Bell-Kake said the games were played at the speed and intensity the team was expecting at the tournament in Wellington.

The Storm was absent last year, as it was decided to not send a side to the national tournament. But Southern Hockey, along with New Zealand Hockey, has committed to going to tournaments for the foreseeable future.

Bell-Kake said the side was light on experienceGoalkeeper Ginny Wilson and Black Sticks international Tessa Jopp, along with the experienced Erin Smyth are all based in Auckland but hail from the south originally, so are players of origin.

North Harbour’s Hannah Duley has been brought in by Bell-Kake.

Duley is a versatile player, who can play up front as well as in the midfield. Bell-Kake knew of her when she was based in Hong Kong and Duley played for a year in the former British colony.

She had NHL experience which was a plus for the squad, Bell-Kake said.

Many of the team were young, having played under-21 and under-18 hockey for Southern, but this would be another step up. Youngster Jessica Faulks has had to drop out of the squad because of a knee injury.

National under-21 representative Maddi McLean is another key player for the side.

Like many sports, putting the ball in the back of the net is a key and something Southern must do better if it wants to make an impact.

The league is set up to have two pools of four, with all going through to quarterfinals on Thursday, so teams can upset the tournament in one day. Finals are on next Sunday.

Southern had a warm-up game against a Southland side last week and had a comfortable 8-1 win.

First match up today is against Canterbury, which is the defending champion.

"They have five or six Black Sticks and they’ll come out hard and strong. But we’ll look forward to playing some girls teams for a change. The big advantage for us is we are unknown. Other teams will know a few of our girls but won’t know the rest of them."


Southern Storm
At a glance

Julia Boothroyd, Tegan Buchanan, Hannah Duley, Ellie Duncan, Tessa Jopp, Maddi McLean, Emily McNaughton, Sandy Mitchell, Claudia Peyroux, Alice Sharples, Helaina Snell, Erin Smyth, Aoife Smyth, Sarah Thomas, Matisse Ulnuilelata, Ginny Wilson, Deborah Yung.

Today: Canterbury, 12.45pm
Tomorrow: Auckland, 11am
Tuesday: Capital, 7pm
Thursday: Quarterfinals
Friday: Semifinals
Sunday: Finals

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