Frontrunners High School Hockey Club withheld a stern test by Palmerston North Girls' High School to win their semifinal 1-0 at the twin turfs on Saturday.
The win extends their season by a week and kept their chance of winning a trifecta of trophies on offer alive, with the final against College this weekend.
Girls' High matched HSHC in all facets of play.
They had huge periods of the game in control, coming close to scoring and forcing HSHC keeper Georgia Barnett to make desperate saves.
Girls' High showed grit and determination, contesting 50-50 ball and the tactic threw HSHC off their game plan.
HSHC created and missed many chances. The game hung in the balance with the only goal coming just before the break when Nicole Schaef tapped in a pass from standout player Wendy Hull.
For most of the second spell Girls' High kept up the momentum, coming close to scoring off a couple of penalty corners with Anna Willocks tirelessly leading the way in midfield and her sister, Libby, was good in defence.
HSHC rebounded, pushing hard for a second goal and came close on many occasions, however, Girls' High didn't falter.
College also won through to the final with a 5-2 win over Massey.
Massey appeared flat with Black Stick Michaela Curtis trying to spark something, but did not have much support.
College were clinical and played their best game of the season, scoring three unanswered goals by halftime. Their midfield, sparked by Tara Pickering, produced the platform for strikers to get behind Massey's defence.
Monica Hudson, Charlotte Symes and Lucy McManaway were on target.
Massey came out in the second half and grabbed two goals seeking to draw level, but College put paid to that idea with Symes scoring immediately to extend the lead.
Experience counted as College's midfield suffocated any Massey resurgence and closed out the game with a penalty corner goal from stalwart Sheree Horvath.
In the men's competition, Massey and College went down to the wire with penalty shootouts required to separate the two. Massey had clawed their way back into the match that finished 4-4, before Massey won the shootout 3-2.
College had a blinder in the first half, with their first goal coming in the 10th minute off a penalty corner from Warren Phillips.
College kept up the pressure, nullifying any Massey attack and living off quick breakouts. Myles Houlihan fed the ball for Ben Molloy to score.
Massey clawed a goal back through Mitchell Cronin, however, Mike McCaddigan scored immediately from the restart to re-establish a two-goal lead.
After halftime College appeared to go into a defensive shell and Massey were quick to take advantage, drawing level with two goals.
College woke up and took back the lead with 10 minutes remaining, only for Massey to equalise with a man in the sin bin.
It went to penalty shootout with Massey winning.
In the earlier semifinal, High School Hockey Club won 7-2 over a plucky Marist side inexperienced in semifinal play.
HSHC started with determination, dictating play, but Marist were gutsy in defence.
They had the odd chance to score, but HSHC plugged and pushed ahead, hungry for a goal.
HSHC nullified Marist in the 34th minute with a slick touch off a penalty corner, taking the lead into halftime.
Suddenly it was game on, when Marist equalised off the restart through Josh Scott.
HSHC squashed any chance with an immediate reply through John Annear and Royden Burt drew and got past the keeper for their third goal.
HSHC kept up the pressure, absorbing many Marist raids and adding their fourth goal before Marist gave a hint of what might have been with a consolation goal to Josh Scott.
Marist's move of subbing their keeper for another striker did not pay off with Burt and Annear scoring again. HSHC capitalised, scoring again off a Marist defensive error late in the match.
- Manawatu Standard
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