The 2018 hockey season came to a close with the highlight being a thrilling match in the Under 17 Mixed Grand Final. Congratulations to Newtown Strikers – Premiers for 2018.
The Grand Final match between Newtown Strikers and Torquay finally arrived on Saturday. Stead Park gave us the usual weather – windy and cold but with sunny skies and a few sprinklings of rain prior to the match. Our match was delayed a little due to the fantastic penalty shootout between U14 Torquay vs Geelong. Strikers started with a touch of nerves, we were passing early, and the hits were strong and long, but pressure from Torquay meant that many of those passes were inaccurate. Torquay had a Penalty Corner when Miles cleared the ball over the back line, but they couldn’t convert. Strikers pushed into attack a few times through Harry, Jack, Jarret, Oscar and EJ but Torquay’s defence had us struggling to reach the circle. It was mostly Torquay in attack with Sam R doing some good work to dispossess Torquay’s most senior player and Caleb and Miles continuing their brilliant form in defence. We were under siege for much of the half, and with Torquay entering the D quickly mid-way through the half, they scored a goal with a fast low reverse stick beating our defence and getting past Luka.
Soon after, Miles was sent off for 2 minutes, and then the clouds broke and pelting rain and hail saw the crowd vacate their seats to take cover. The rain slowed down the play a bit and there was no further scoring in the first half.
At half time as we tried to keep out of the rain behind the dug-out, Coach Darren and Assistant Coach Deb gave the team some words of encouragement and inspiration and they certainly took the words to heart, as we came out a much more cohesive unit in the second half. At the 8 minute mark Jarret forced a turn-over that enabled Harry and EH to take the ball into the circle and Strikers drew a Penalty Corner. Strikers had been practicing our Penalty Corners at this week’s training, and to stop Torquay running straight at Ella (as the only girl who could take the first hit), we practiced passing to other players and then to Ella for the hit. This worked perfectly during the Grand Final, as Jarret received the push, then passed to Harry who passed to Ella and she put the ball through, making the score 1-all.
The game was back and forth from there, with Torquay having the better opportunities with a hit across goal but no-one to receive, and a Penalty Corner 14 minutes into the half, but in a brilliant passage of play Jarret took the ball forward and passed to EJ. EJ then took the ball into the circle and with his trademark big swing scored a brilliant goal to give Strikers a 2-1 lead. Torquay kept calm and had a Penalty Corner which Strikers defeded, then Torquay again had a big chance with a hit across goal. Strikers too had some nice play with the team streaming into attack late in the half and a near goal as we managed to bring Torquay’s goalie out past Sam S but Sam’s hit was saved on the very last line of defence. With just on a minute remaining, Strikers had a Penalty Corner which was defended, but Torquay ran out of time to take the ball into attack. As the whistle for full-time was blown, the Strikers players, coaches and supporters were ecstatic to win in a fantastic game against a really awesome team in Torquay.
Thanks to Coaches Darren and Deb, families of the players, and most importantly the players themselves for believing in themselves and giving us a great hockey season, culminating in this fantastic Premiership triumph.
Grand Final Day also saw the presentation of Premiers and Runner Up medals and pennants for the U10 Mixed Competition. Congratulations to Newtown Strikers, Premiers, and Newtown Rebels, Runners Up, for these well deserved rewards for a hard fought hockey season.