Capital ruined what would have been some party for North Harbour hockey tonight.
After North Harbour had won the two development national hockey competitions, and the women had beaten Central to win the K Cup crown, Capital won a sudden death shootout to deprive Harbour of what would have been a stellar quartet of titles in Wellington.
The men’s final was drawn 1-1 — Kaylan Jeram equalising for Harbour three minutes from the end after Sebastian Buddle had given Capital an early lead.
The shootout ended 2-2, Benedict van Woerkom put Capital ahead in sudden death, and their goalkeeper, veteran former Black Sticks player Kyle Pontifex, pulled off a save to win the title for Capital.
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Harbour had been easily the heaviest scoring side through the tournament, nailing 26 goals in seven games — Cory Bennett scoring 11 of them — but Capital defended smartly and defending Challenge Shield champions Harbour didn’t help themselves in front of goal.
“We started pretty well and had them under a bit of presssure but struggled to convert our opportunities into decent outcomes,” international midfielder George Muir said tonight.
“It was a little bit disappointing not to get any penalty corners either.”
“Capital came out and defended really well so credit them for that.”
The Harbour women won their final with goals from Courtney Winterbottom and Black Sticks striker Kirsten Pearce.
Coach Sam Bartholomew had high praise for the work of his senior players, notably Pearce and captain and recently-retired international Petrea Webster.
“They were huge, really good all week,” he said.
“They’ve been leading the team from the front and been really calm and composed in those pressure situations. They know how to make a difference in key moments.”
Having an attacking mindset was an important element in clinching the title.
“We looked to put a lot of pressure on the opposition when they were outletting and that paid dividends.
“We turned over a lot of ball and looked to counter-attack and create as many goalscoring opportunities as we could.”
The title is Harbour women’s first since 2010 and Bartholomew hopes it will help inspire the younger players in the region to aim for the top.