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Defensive end . . . Waitaki Girls' High School goalkeeper Sarah McIntosh has been selected for the Southern under-18 team for the national championships. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

When Sarah McIntosh takes her position on the hockey turf, she is in a world of her own – and she wouldn’t want it any other way.

The 18-year-old Waitaki Girls’ High School goalkeeper is the last line of defence, and her prowess in front of goal was recently rewarded when she was named in the Southern under-18 team for the national tournament in Whangarei from Sunday.

McIntosh was as delighted as she was surprised to make the cut for the team, and hoped to impress during the time she spent on the turf.

“I’m the B goalie so I’m not guaranteed a lot of turf time, but it’s probably going to be 50/50 . . . it’s just going out there and giving it my all.”

McIntosh’s team is one of eight that will play at the tournament, which she will play at instead of representing the North Otago under-18 team at an association tournament.

She had played at that event for the past two years, and said the decision to forgo it this year was a “last minute” decision when the chance to trial for the Southern squad came up.

McIntosh, who started playing hockey aged 7, has been a goalie for about 10 years.

She started playing in her favoured position at intermediate school level against older players.

In a lot of cases, young players are plonked in front of goal with little say in the position they play.

However, McIntosh, who has been coached by North Otago hockey stalwart Shaun Cunningham for the past decade, was not too fussed about being thrust into the important role.

“I kind of thought, ‘Oh well, let’s give it a go’.

“It’s just a different position completely to everywhere else. It’s my own little world back there.”

She said the position posed its share of challenges.

“I think the big one is when you actually lose a game, it kind of feels like you make the team lose because you let all of the goals in. But it’s got to get past 10 other players to get in – that’s what my coach tells me.”

McIntosh is keen to press for higher honours in the future and will do what she can at the national tournament to impress national selectors, who will be watching with keen interest.

She has continued a family tradition of playing hockey at a high level.

Her older sister, Sam, also played for the Waitaki Girls’ First XI and has represented the New Zealand Army hockey team, while younger brother Bradley (16) plays for the Waitaki Boys’ High School First XI.