Nothing like playoff hockey:
After three matches each, all teams went into Thursday's quarterfinals with the same chance of making the semis regardless of whether you'd had three wins or zero. This gave Midlands all the ammo they needed, knowing they could forget their performances earlier in the week and could still make it through to the semis. For Auckland it was a matter of banking the experiences after three wins and going in with confidence against the defending champs Midlands.
The match was a humdinger, with Auckland going up early through a solo stunner from Jared Panchia, but were pegged back and then overtaken in the space of a minute, including one from Jonty Keaney. Auckland tied it up through Mike Ritchie in the third and with no further goals, a shootout was on. A lot was obviously riding on the 8-second shootout, and after going to sudden death Auckland keeper Devon Manchester made a save to give them the win and take them through to the semi.
Semi-final outlook: Midlands Women vs Auckland Women
Midlands women had a rocky start to the tournament losing to Northland on day one, but since then, they have trending upwards and find themselves in the semi with Auckland. On paper this Midlands team is one for the ages, with household names such as Charlton, Lady McCaw, Gloyn and Keddell leading the show. If they can get the decision making and execution right up front they'll be extremely tough to hold out.
On the Auckland side, the team is led by Julia King who remains the key cog in the centre of the pitch for them. With young strikers with a lot to prove and experienced defenders providing the safety blanket all great teams require, there is no surprise that this Auckland side remains unbeaten. If the Auckland side can remain solid at the back, it will give them the opportunity to unleash their quick strike-forwards to counter quickly and try catch the Midlands team napping. Either way this game will be a doozy and on a Friday night down in Wellington - where would you rather be! My prediction is a 2-1 win to Auckland, but I've seen stranger things...