Raiders shock defending champions in semi-final
HOCKEY: The old adage anything can happen in finals came true for Raiders Hockey Club on Saturday afternoon.
The division one women's side, which was winless all season, produced its greatest performance of the year to beat Cities 2-1 in the minor semi-final.
The side is now one win away from making the grand final after losing its first 18 matches this season.
Raiders player Sammy Stevens was the match-winner with two goals as the side knocked out the defending champions.
"We've played them a couple of times so we had a couple of strategies in place to beat them,” Raiders coach Brendan Stevens.
"The focus was to put pressure on them in the midfield and they walked straight into that.”
But Stevens admitted it was a surprise to knock them off.
"We've just played hockey for fun this year,” he said.
"We have players ranging from 16- to 17-year-old to over-50-year-olds playing.”
Stevens said the side improved considerably when they started to jel.
"Throughout the year we slowly built games together with the squad we've got,” he said.
"The problem was our fitness and fading out in the last 15 minutes.”
It is an issue the side wants to eliminate before they face All Blacks in the preliminary final this week.
"We're quietly confident and we were 2-0 up against the All Blacks early in the last meeting before fading late,” Stevens said.
"We'll be playing the same as when we faced Cities.”
The Raiders and All Blacks play at 2pm this Saturday after All Blacks lost to Arrows 4-2 who made the grand final.
In the men's competition, Raiders defeated Arrows 4-1 and Rovers beat Cities White 3-2.