A beautiful sunny day capped off the 2019 hockey season, with a thrilling win in the U14 Grand Final for Newtown Spirit, and a satisfying win for the U10 Strikers.
Under 14 Mixed
Newtown Spirit vs Kardinia Blue 4-3
A nail biter! The grand final on Saturday against Kardinia Blue had the promise of being the match of the hockey season in the U14 competition. And it probably was. Both teams started by marking each other closely. Spirit defended well with Tom, Cam and Mitchell giving great support to our full backs. Long passing out of defense by Harry B to our running high striker, Harry W opened up our forward half and eventually resulted in a short corner. Harry B left nothing to chance with a powerful shot that sent us to a 1 nil lead. Spirit continued to work into space, with Harriet skillfully trapping a searing pass from Harry B and working the ball forward to Adam making good position just outside the D. Kardinia rallied and marked us harder in centre pitch where we got bogged down and started losing possession. They soon capitalised and drew level at 1 all. The play remained evenly split between both teams but Kardinia’s aggression up forward earnt them a short corner with only a few minutes remaining in the half. We defended well but failed to slow their momentum and they nosed in front 2 -1 at half time.
In the break coach Darren calmed the mood, focusing on the basics, marking players, making space and quick passing to players in that space.
It was immediately evident from the whistle in the second half that Kardinia meant business. Harry W’s game ended when he took a hard hit to the hand from a lifted ball. Then Spirit lifted. Forceful tackling by Mason in mid field dispossessed running Kardinia players; Tilly continued to shadow one of Kardinia’s key scoring players denying him much influence in the game; and Grace put up her own defensive wall on a number of occasions, stopping aggressive attacking plays by Kardinia in their tracks. Daniel and Izzy got in on the act when they were subbed on, both gaining possessions and looking for players in space. Still, we were down 2 – 1. With 16 minutes to go, a tomahawk by Harry B after a short corner was well defended by Kardinia full backs right on the goal line after beating the goalie. Only 2 minutes later, on another short corner, Harry B with a fore stick shot levelled the game at 2 all. Yet another short corner was followed by another shot by Harry B that would have hit the mark but was very well defended by the Kardinia goalie. At the 9 ½ minute mark, with tension rising, Tom snuck through a pass that found Luca lurking at the top of the D. After skillfully gaining possession, he beat 2 Kardinia players and the goalie to put us back into the lead 3 – 2. Spirit kept the pressure on Kardinia and looked set to seal the match with 3 ½ minutes left when Harry B, took on 6 Kardinia players deep in the D and forced a another short corner. No score. The clock dropped below 2 minutes and was there for at least 1 ½ minutes when a loose Kardinia striker made good from just inside the D; 3 all. Extra time.
Vocal crowd + extra time + golden goal = tension. Kardinia gained the upper hand early pushing into offense from the whistle. Our defenders rallied, led by Grace who held firm to give us breathing space. Harry B and Amber teamed up with nice passing around the top of our D. Five minutes in to extra time Kardinia strikers drove hard into offense, outnumbering us deep into their D leaving our goalie exposed for the first time in the match. A high speed shot that looked certain to be a season winning goal for Kardinia ended with the dull sound of ball on polystyrene, and Mai kicked the ball to safety. Nothing more, nothing less than we expected from our star goalie. Spirit didn’t panic, passed well and wrestled the ball out of defense to midfield. Harry B gained possession just outside the 25 line, rounded 2 Kardinia defenders and ran into space. Deep in the D, it was business as usual, goal; but a golden one that capped off a great season for the whole team, coach, manager and parents. 4 – 3.
Under 10 Mixed
Newtown Strikers vs Torquay 2-1
Newtown Strikers faced up to Torquay in an exhibition match between the U10 Premiers and Runners Up for the 2019 hockey season. Strikers were keen to put on a good performance after three matches against the Premiers, Torquay, in this hockey season had resulted in three losses. The first match was a 0-7 result, followed by two matches finishing at 0-1, so there were some keen players ready to take the field.
Torquay began well, with great focus and great ball movement and scored in the first half. Great effort and hard running from Will B and Jacob was supported by good positioning from Sofia and Harrison. Grace, Bella and Edward provided a solid defence, getting the ball out to the midfield, where Charles was in great position. However the tendency to pass the ball back down the middle allowed Torquay to regain possession and threaten the goals.
A switch with Charles back to the last line of defence saw Edward move to centre midfield, and he met the opposition onslaught beautifully, tackling well and passing wide with William and Cormac in support, also making some nice interceptions. Improved focus and great running to space, combined with strategic passing to team mates found Maddie in perfect position in front of goals and Newtown finished with 2 goals in the last 10 minutes, to claim a 2-1 win.
Congratulations to the U10 Strikers on an excellent season, earning their Runners Up medals and finishing the season on a strong note.