It doesn’t come much better in sport than to defeat an Australian rival in their own backyard on Anzac Day.
Seven young women from the Waikato, including six from Hamilton, did just that as part of the New Zealand under-23 lacrosse team.
Hamilton’s Madeleine Gordon, Chelsi Rys, Rebecca Bryan, Lavinia Patching, Siobhan Quintal and her sister Samantha Quintal, plus Tyla Grafas from St Peter’s School near Cambridge, upset the Victorian Open women’s side 14-2 in Melbourne.
Coach Kristen Fredricsen said her NZ U23 team ‘‘took a while to click’’ but grew in confidence with wins in two warm-up games, while also recognising the importance of Anzac Day.
They learnt that 100 years ago World War I prevented the first lacrosse test between Australia and New Zealand taking place. On Friday April 25 2014 it was finally played when Australian representative men’s and women’s teams took on their NZ counterparts in Auckland, honouring the Anzacs at a ground steeped in military history (College Rifles Sports Club).
The two nations squared off last year and plan to continue the tradition.
Fredricsen said her team attended a dawn service, which regularly draws more than 80,000 people, at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.
By the time they played the feature state match ‘‘all the nerves were gone’’, she said. ‘‘I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls.’’
Lacrosse, a stickball game first played by Native Americans since at least the 1600s, has been described as ‘‘hockey in the air’’.
The oldest recorded matches in New Zealand are attributed to Waikato in 1877, but the sport faded out here with the outbreak of World War One in 1914 and only re-started in 2000.
Madeleine Gordon, 15, brought the game to St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton, which was previously without a team, this year after starting out at Sacred Heart in 2015.
The year 11 student, who also plays club lacrosse for Kaipaki, near Cambridge, made the NZ and Waikato Under-15 sides last year.