The first round of finals for the 2022 hockey season saw Newtown well represented, with 8 teams playing in 6 of the 7 Geelong Hockey Association competition Finals. The day brought mixed results but it was fantastic to see that 6 teams would remain in the race for the Premiership, with U12 Strikers moving straight into the Grand Final.
Under 12 Mixed
Newtown Strikers vs Geelong Jaguars 2-1.
Strikers were challenged by strong play from the Jaguars in the first half, with Geelong scoring an early goal. But Strikers showed determination to stop any further Jaguar goals, with a short corner goal from Will leveling the score at half time.
The Strikers defence was strong with some great tackles and intercepts by Maia and Charles, and well-judged saves by James in goals. Ved used his impressive skills on a number of occasions to take the ball out of defence to set up attacks, even when surrounded by opposition players. Audrey had a couple of long runs with the ball down the right side of the field and into the attacking D, with one entry resulting in a goal by Sofia after persistent efforts by the team.
Jaguars won several short corners in the second half but Strikers held them from scoring to go on and win a place in the Grand Final.
Thanks to Ruby, Ved and Chelsea for being part of the U12 Strikers semi-final team.
Under 14 Mixed
Newtown Strikers v’s Torquay 1-4
Week 1 of the finals and we had earnt the right to be playing off for a direct path into the Grand Final. Strikers again had a couple of players away but again Ved and Hamish stepped up to give us a full list for the first final.
Extra time in the U12 match Surry was umpiring, saw Surry arrive just as the team was about to run out, causing a few stressful moments for coach and manager. We got off to a strong start, with Max driving us into attack early, and getting some early looks at some short corners, but we just weren’t able to convert. Hamish, Zac and Surry, were keeping the ball up in attack, with Izzy rebounding anything that came out. Some great positions on the post by Ivy and Brandon had some chances, and our pressure was keeping the Torquay defenders busy.
A quick breakaway out of defence by Torquay, and despite some good defence from Kashvi and Leo, a bobbling ball managed to get into the goals to open the scoring for Torquay. A disappointing result, with how much time we had spent in attack. This gave Torquay a lift, and they quickly added a second goal from another messy attack, but they got the ball over the line. Our team’s energy had dropped and Torquay got another goal to go into half time with a 3-0 lead.
Kurt got the team into a tight huddle and asked that they lift. Max had been running his heart out, and Kurt asked the team to follow his lead.
This seemed to give our team the required lift, our halves Ollie and Will were blocking more of the attacks, Ved providing some good defence in the middle, Max continuing to drive us forward. Charlotte took a more aggressive defense on the Torquay attackers, at one stage meeting their main goal scorer head on, and stopping his drive towards the goals, showing she meant business. We rebounded out of defence much better, with Izzy running the ball out, and moving to our mids and wings. Kashvi had a lift in confidence, and was providing some good movement out of defence, and Leo was meeting and repelling the Torquay forwards. We again got some short corners but were just not able to convert our chances. Torquay managed to get another goal on the board, but Strikers kept pushing. We got another late short corner, and this time we got a clean hit, and were finally on the board.
Unfortunately, time ran out, and we went down 4-1, but a much better result in the second half, managing to match Torquay on the score board. We had a lot of scoring opportunities all game, but just were not able to get the ball over the line. Time now for us to dust ourselves off, and re-group for the prelim next weekend. We worked hard all season to earn this double chance, now let’s make the most of this chance and get back on our winning ways Strikers!
Newtown Rebels vs Kardinia White 1-0
A tight game with neither team able to break the deadlock, forcing the game into extra time and the ‘Golden Goal’. Goal scored by Anessa to put Rebels into the Preliminary Finals.
Under 17 Mixed
Newtown Strikers vs Newtown Spirit 17-0
On Saturday Strikers played Spirit in a second semi-final. We took the pitch with almost a full team while Spirit was missing 5 key players that were replaced by fill-ins. This was a bit of a Newtown decider with the head-to-head for the season so far sitting at 1 each. Strikers scored early when Mitch finished off a short corner after a pass from Charlotte. Spirit defended well at times forcing us to move the ball around and use the full width of the pitch, which we did very well. Goals flowed freely for the remainder of the half resulting in an 11-nil lead at half time with 5 different goal scorers.
Niko’s first word at half time was “brilliant”. He urged us to press harder and flood our goals; go for short corners. Our passing improved even further in the second half. Lara, in perfect position as always, involved herself in a great passage of play with Harry B, Charlotte and Tilly. Minutes later, on the post, she forced a stroke that she delegated to Tilly to finish off just to share around the glory.
Scores at full time were 17-Nil, 10 to Harry B. Well done Strikers.
Newtown Spirit vs Newtown Strikers 0-17
An undermanned Newtown Spirit team with no reserves faced the difficult task of containing the speedy attack mounted by Strikers. Great defence by Liam and Kayla was tested time and again, and Madden in goals found himself in the action more times than he might have liked. The Spirit midfield worked hard to try to feed the ball through to attackers but found many forward moves cut off before reaching the target.
Spirit continued to work hard for the whole game, producing a second half which reduced the effectiveness of the Strikers attack. While this game ended the season for Spirit, the team and all the players are to be congratulated for their efforts and persistence in a difficult year. Well done all.
Division 1 Women
Newtown Falcons vs Saints Black 1-1
Division 2 Men
Newtown Falcons vs Geelong Blue 6-1
Division 2 Women
Newtown Strikers vs Torquay Tornadoes 1-4
Having had some success against Torquay earlier this year, we were hopeful of another good game and a good result. Torquay got on the board early with some short corner success, and we were playing catchup from then. Solid defence again from Kirsty and Tracey was well matched by great midfield work from Sarah and Deb. Strong hits from Peta put the ball forward for Serena, Charlotte and Grace to receive and we had a number of forward moves which looked promising. Tash was playing in a less familiar position, recovering from illness, and got one on the board for us but we weren’t able to match Torquay on the scoreboard.
Although this is not the end we had hoped for, the season can be viewed as a success, with an improved win/loss ratio and more goals scored – 30 goals scored by 10 different players. We were without the services of a couple of experienced players and happy to welcome new team members Sarah and Shan. We were also very fortunate to have more young players in the team, and the development of their skills and confidence during the season was great to see. Well done to Grace, Serena, Charlotte, Hanna and Anessa. We look forward to 2023, and thanks to everyone for being part of the 2022 hockey season.