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The team had a win before a ball had been hit with news Black Sticks goalie Ginny Wilson has been granted dispensation to play in the under-21 tournament which starts in Auckland today.
She is 52 days too old but Southern was in desperate need, coach Jason Dungey said.
"We had no keepers available for us so we did get dispensation and will have Ginny come back which is fantastic news," he said.
Wilson will bolster what is a very solid-looking defence. Her presence will give the team that little bit of extra confidence it needs to press forward in search of those goals which have proved so elusive for Southern teams.
While Wilson’s availability is a lucky break, key midfielder Grace Bayley fractured a bone in her foot last weekend and will miss the tournament. She has been replaced in the squad by Charlotte Arthur.Southern will open its campaign against North Harbour this afternoon and it shapes as a stern challenge. North Harbour was beaten 2-1 by Midlands in the final last year.
"North Harbour will probably be up there again. They are very quick to set how they want to attack and how they want to defend and then they execute very, very quickly."
The teams met in a pre-season tournament in Dunedin during the Easter break and Harbour proved too strong. Southern was also outclassed by an Otago under-18 boys team but drew 1-1 with a "stacked" Canterbury team. That result was a confidence booster.While the pre-season was useful hit-out, Dungey said his team would start well behind some of the North Island teams in terms of preparation.With no finals this seasons, every game counts. Southern finished sixth last year and he is hoping his side can climb the ladder a few places.
"We’re looking to try and break the tradition of Southern finishing towards the bottom.
"The top four would be nice but fifth or fourth would be a pretty reachable target for this team if we get our mentality right.
"Basically, we’ll try and make sure everyone gets involved and just play as a team. Everybody will have to work hard."
Midfielder Lydia Shirley and defender Hannah Ostick will share the captaincy duties. They are both aggressive players and very vocal on the field. Annabel Girvan is a key defender and "solid distributor", while Neve McLean will shift between the midfield and striker and shapes as Southern’s most potent force in front of goal.
U21 women’s tourney in Auckland
Southern: Lydia Shirley (co-captain), Hannah Ostick (co-captain), Charlotte Arthur, Julia Boothroyd, Annabel Girvan, Kate Kersten, Neve McLean, Ashleigh McNaughton, Amy O’Neill, Claudia Peyroux, Emma Simcock-Smith, Finella Sweeney, Tyla Toheriri, Kezia Taylor, Matisse Uluilelata, Ginny Wilson.
v North Harbour, May 6
v Auckland, May 7
v Midlands, May 9
v Canterbury, May 11
v Capital, May 12
v Central, May 13