National Champions. Again. The Baradene Football 1st XI won their maiden title in Taupo last year. Now, they’ve won it in Christchurch. Winning back-to-back championships is a tough ask of any team, All Blacks included. However, I doubt many teams would be expected to take out the championship with eight new players to the squad, four of whom joined the team the week before tournament.

Boasting six juniors (Marie Green, Maya Allsop, Olivia Page, Sophia De Magalhaes, Isabelle Gerrand and Ruby Nathan), the team knew they would be going against the odds to make Top 8, let alone bring home the trophy. Their first game against Westlake was certainly a wakeup call to the task ahead. Going down 1-0 in the first two minutes was a shock to the system as this season the Baradene girls have not had to chase a game so early in. While the girls in black got their game together, an ankle injury to the skilful De Magalhaes left the team shaken. Westlake defended strongly and the game ended with Bara confronted by something new to them. Defeat. Coach Ryan Shiffman knew how to use it. Spurring the girls forward to attack their next two games with all they had, his calm and collected manner saw them beat Queen Margaret 9-0 in their second game. The girls then scraped into Top 16 with a 1-1 draw against Sacred Heart New Plymouth, Bara’s superior goal difference seeing them through.

Top 16 is a commendable result for defending champions with a fairly new team, but the girls were not going to leave it at that. They went into their Top 8 playoff against St. Mary’s Wellington with guns blazing. Some stellar defending from Green and Katie Harris, along with super keeper Margaret Wood kept the Wellington girls at bay. One goal would be enough and it came from youngster Ruby Nathan. Nothing fazes this Year 9 as we have previously seen in her penalty-taking skills against Epsom Girls in the APC final a week earlier.

Top 8. Another fine feat but the Bara girls were hungry for more. In their quarter final match, Wellington East couldn’t break through fullbacks Issy Coman and Alex Saunders and the midfield trio of Page, Nathan and Olivia Ongley tore up the centre of the park (before the latter pulled a glute!). Goals rained down on the second Wellington team to challenge Bara, as Hannah Pilley, Prue Catton and super sub Allsop all found the back of the net, with Catton grabbing a brace. The score stood at 4-0 as the whistle blew for full time. The girls had done it. They were in the semi-finals.

Top 4. If there were doubters about Baradene winning back-to-back titles at the beginning of the tournament, they were certainly few and far between now. But the biggest challenge was still to come. Another rematch against Epsom. The team that has been their toughest competition throughout the season. It was going to be a full-on battle. Right from the start Epsom showed no signs of relenting, but the Bara girls were on form. Much of the battle took place in the middle of the park as both midfield’s clashed, bashed and tackled their way through, hoping to sneak a pass through the defensive lines. Catton and Epsom’s captain provided much of the entertainment for the sideline as they exchanged tackles, banter and attempted to run rings around each other. Both teams played their hearts out with Bara having the better chances of the second half, however, it was going the way it always seems to go with EGGS. Penalties. Tension was running high on the subs bench, in the bleachers with the fans and of course with the two teams shooting for glory on the field. The Epsom keeper made a great save from an Ongley penalty first up, with the first EGGS penalty taker scoring. 0-1. Co-captain Pilley led the team back into the game with a beautiful penalty soaring past the keeper. Nathan was up next. Completely calm and unfazed once again, she calmly slotted her penalty. Harris, Catton and Saunders followed suit. A missed penalty from the opposition saw Baradene take the lead with co-captain Margaret Wood about to play the hero. The last EGGS penalty-taker shot high and central, but Wood punched the ball away and Baradene was into the final.

Finals against another Hamilton team (Hillcrest). After a brutal match against Epsom, the Baradene girls prepared for the final battle. They wanted it. They were hungry for it. It was time to bring the trophy home. 3 goals in the first half sealed their victory. Pilley grabbed her brace with Catton nabbing her 8th goal of the tournament. Neve Petherbridge was a powerful force on the right, tackling, crossing and dribbling circles around her defenders. In the second half the Baradene bench (Gerrand, Groenestein, Allsop and Sipos) ran rampant with De Magalhaes also getting back on the field. It was a convincing win and when the final whistle blew, cheers echoed around the field and tears flowed from the Year 13s (Pilley, Wood, Harris and Coman) who had led their team to victory for the last time.

Newcomers to the team Olivia Groenestein, Gerrand and Sophia Sipos all made their mark throughout the tournament, with a few goal scoring opportunities in various games. Margaret Wood, the voice of the team, conceded only 2 goals throughout the tournament, both in pool play. Prue Catton was 1 goal away from tying for Golden Boot with 8 goals scored throughout the tournament. Hannah Pilley took her momentum from Nationals into the Kate Sheppard Cup final against Coastal Spirit, scoring 2 goals early in the first half, leading her team to a 4-0 maiden victory.

Special thanks to our star coach Ryan Shiffman, manager Bernadette Goulding and the wonderful Baradene supporters who out-cheered everyone down in Christchurch.

Bardene College 2019 National Squad

Hannah Pilley (c)
Margaret Wood GK (c)
Katie Harris
Alex Saunders
Issy Coman
Olivia Ongley
Prue Catton
Neve Petherbridge
Marie Green
Ruby Nathan
Olivia Page
Isabelle Gerrand
Olivia Groenestein
Maya Allsop
Sophia Sipos
Sophia De Magalhaes

Coach: Ryan Shiffman
Managers: Rachel Buyck (Term 2 season)
Bernadette Goulding (Term 3 season and Nationals)

Injured starters who didn’t attend Nationals:
Ruby Rimmer
Petra Buyck
Rosa Caird
Kate Duncan