Paraparaumu College hockey pleased to end on a high with top 5 finish at Rankin Cup

Paraparaumu College’s first XI hockey team saved their best for last when achieving a top-five finish at the Rankin Cup.

The team lost just once, in their quarterfinals against eventual champions Christ’s College, at the tournament in Hamilton, ending what had been an up-and-down year on a big high.

They came very close to silverware during the year before falling agonisingly short.

First, it was at the end of the Wellington grading round, when they lost that cup competition final 4-1 to Wairarapa College.

Then, they went through the P1 competition unbeaten, but lost 2-1 in the final to Wellington College in the final minute of 7v7 extra-time.

“Losing that game … it hurt … bigtime,” team manager Andrew Rider said.

“We couldn’t talk much about hockey for a week or so after that game. The boys were gutted. I don’t think I can express that any more. It hurt.”

Thankfully then, they had 10 days after that game before Rankin began.

It also meant they didn’t have to wait too long to get revenge against Wellington, with the perennial local powerhouse awaiting them in their second pool game.

“There was no way they were going to beat us again,” Rider said.

“I’m not saying we were cocky, but we just felt like we were not going to be beaten again. We knew it wasn’t going to be a given, but we felt confident.”

Wellington went up 1-0, but Paraparaumu won 4-2.

“It was all go. It was a very competitive game. They was no quarter given by either team. We had learnt from the final, they had learnt from the final, but our boys just didn’t want to lose.”

The win meant they finished top of their pool and after beating Timaru Boys’ High School 2-1 in the round of 16 they came up against the might of Christ’s, going down 4-1.

“They were a very well-drilled side. It’s fair to say they were the better team, but the scoreline didn’t reflect how close it was. Three of their goals were from penalty corners.”

Further wins against Tauranga Boys’ College and Hamilton Boys’ High School secured their fifth-place finish, which brought a level of satisfaction to the squad when reflecting on their season, Rider said.

“I posed the question to the boys: would you rather have fifth at Rankin, or win the Wellington competition? They all said Rankin, by far.

“Based on their values, we’re very pleased and proud of what we’ve done this season. To finish the fifth-best team in the country and only lose to the eventual winner is amazing.”

It must be noted Paraparaumu have never really been a massive contender in Wellington hockey. They have been there or thereabouts the last few years, but spent a lot of time in the past yo-yoing between P1 and P2.

This season had been a vintage one because the core group of players had been together for a long time, with four players having played more than 100 games for the first XI, Rider said.

“We only lost one player from last season. This team has been on the rise for a couple of years. The year 13s now all started in the first XI at year nine and as each year progressed we got a core of good kids.

“They’re not stars, but they play good, basic hockey.”

Credit must also go to their coach, Richard Pickney, who has taken the team for nine years, helping develop the players and the gameplan critical to their success.

With only four year 13s moving on next year, Paraparaumu stand a good chance of being contenders at both local and national level again next year.

Meanwhile, Wellington ended up making the second-division India Shield final, before losing to St Kentigern College 3-1 for an 18th overall finish. Wairarapa finished 16th, Rathkeale College 20th, Heretaunga College 28th and St Patrick’s Silverstream 32nd.

In the girls’ national competition, the best of the local finisher was Queen Margaret College in eighth. St Matthew’s Collegiate finished 10th, Wairarapa 26th and Samuel Marsden College 30th.

 – Stuff