St Mary’s netballers in seventh heaven with RSSL title win.

Story courtesy of College Sport Media

The St Mary’s College netball dynasty continues.

The St Mary’s Senior A netball team won their seventh straight College Sport Wellington RSSL Division 1 competition title on Monday night at a packed ASB Centre.

St Mary’s beat Queen Margaret College 39-27 in the final, doubling their six-goal win over them when they met recently in the round-robin series.

As per finals in previous years, St Mary’s were able to absorb pressure and remain composed and then up the ante when required and provide their attacking circle with fast, clean ball.

Standing out like a beacon there was goal shoot Phoenix Schwalger, who took most of their shots and rarely missed.  Schwalger, who starred in this corresponding final two years ago as a year 9 substitute, was on court all match and it was her perfect 15 from 15 shots on goal in the third quarter that helped her team win the match convincingly.

Schwalger was ably supported by her midcourters, led by captain Erana Ngarimu at centre, and at the defensive end. Goal keep Caitlin Lafaele made several big turnovers, both one on one against QMC’s shorter attackers and through her anticipation, helping to upset QMC’s midcourt connections.

Schwalger and Lafaele were recently selected in the NZSS squad that assembles later this year. Both are year 11s, so the future remains bright.

St Mary’s also brought on a couple of fresh players after halftime and they established control of the final in the third quarter.

A tense and willing opening 20 minutes saw QMC take a 16-15 lead into halftime.

St Mary’s doubled their goal tally in third quarter to take a 30-21 lead into the final 10 minutes, scoring seven consecutive unanswered goals in the middle stages of the term. The nine-goal deficit was too much for QMC to come back from and St Mary’s went on to win by 12.

St Mary’s captain Erana Ngarimu was pleased with her team’s performance. “That was a big lift in intensity from the girls, so I am really proud of them,” said Erana afterwards, one of three year 13s in the St Mary’s squad this year.

“I thought our team really came in with really clear heads and set out our goal on what we wanted to get done and we were really focused on achieving that seventh win.”

Erana was quick to praise QMC for a worthy final. “They definitely put up a good fight and they were a really tough team right to the end, as we were expecting, so credit to them for pushing us hard.”

Earlier, St Mary’s had led 9-6 at the end of the first quarter, but QMC found their flow through court and fed goal shoot Lilly Taulelei and goal attack Holly Morgan a steady flow of ball and they both made their shots. QMC drew level at 10-10 early in the second quarter and managed to edge ahead on the halftime buzzer.

For the second straight year St Mary’s completed an unbeaten RSSL season, winning all seven of their round-robin matches and the final.

As well as winning the RSSL title, St Mary’s are also back-to-back junior netball champions in 2022. Last week they won the CSW Junior Netball Tournament, beating Tawa College 17-13 in the final to retain the Tanya Dearns Cup.

Both teams have a short break before heading to the Hawke’s Bay to contest the annual Lower North Island Secondary School tournament. The top five teams from LNISS qualify for the NZSS tournament in October in Porirua.

The two teams that contested the 2022 RSSL Division 1 final were (starting positions denoted):

St Mary’s College: Phoenix Schwalger GS, Charlotte White GA, Briana Parkes WA, Erana Ngarimu C, Natalia Savali WD, Kiara-Leigh Davidson-Korewha GD, Caitlin Lafaele GK. Reserves other players: Teuila Bennis, Lemana Fo’i, Pierina Cusin-Tavite, Ava Ekenasio

Queen Margaret College: Lola Campbell WD, Mia Holden GD, Holly Morgan GA, Pippa Nicol GK, Tia Pavihi C, Chelsea Summers WA, Lilly Taulelei GS. Reserves/other players: Brook Tongia, Mia Campbell

There were two other final round RSSL matches played at the ASB Centre on Monday night. Results of these were:

 

Division 2
St Oran’s beat Tawa 42-33

Division 3
Scots beat Upper Hutt 49-16