Bril­liant Rats show cham­pion qual­i­ties

Kyabram Free Press - - SPORT - By Jess Gled­hill

THE KYABRAM-ECHUCA Rats be­came the 2017 cham­pi­ons af­ter Satur­day’s Goul­burn Val­ley Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion se­nior grand fi­nals, tak­ing out a 2-0 vic­tory over SYC at Shep­par­ton.

They were full of trep­i­da­tion tak­ing on SYC, who beat the Rats 3-0 in their last meet­ing in the home and away sea­son.

Know­ing any­thing can hap­pen in fi­nals, and that SYC had come off the back of a strong win against Be­nalla the week be­fore, nerves were high.

A brief pre-game pep talk from coach Katie Tonkin made the girls more re­laxed, smil­ing and ready for ac­tion.

As the Rats took to the field there was strong sup­port from the crowd and they were de­ter­mined to stick to their game and come away with a win.

‘‘The game was hard fought from the first whis­tle,’’ Tonkin said.

‘‘Nei­ther team wanted to give away any op­por­tu­ni­ties.

‘‘With no penalty cor­ners given away it was con­stant game play of at­tack and de­fence.’’

How­ever, each time the Rats made some ground mi­nor er­rors in their play which re­sulted in a turnover, SYC were stopped short from reach­ing their cir­cle with de­ter­mined de­fence from Ruth Goode and Narelle Thom­son.

De­spite con­tin­ued en­cour­age­ment from Tonkin, the Rats just couldn’t seem to con­vert the many ex­cel­lent runs made by the young for­wards.

The Rats left the field 0-0 at half time.

‘‘At half time we spoke about con­cen­trat­ing on our own game,’’ Tonkin said.

‘‘Slow things down, as the day turned out to be quite warm, look to each other with sim­ple passes and be strong in de­fence.’’

The girls ran back out onto the field de­ter­mined to take the match.

Early runs from Rachael Costello, sup­ported by Chloe Kell and Jenna Park, put SYC on the back foot and had the Rats back in at­tack mode.

Clever play from Kee­ley Thomp­son at the top of the cir­cle drew a short cor­ner and the ball was pushed out con­fi­dently to Jenna Park, who had a shot on goal that was de­flected di­rectly back at her.

With a sec­ond at­tempt, she pushed it off to the side of the SYC goalie where Chloe Kell was poised, seem­ingly wait­ing to just cra­dle the ball into the goals putting the first score on the board to the Rats.

‘‘The sup­port both on and off field just ex­ploded,’’ Tonkin said. The Rats were in ac­tion. SYC came back fir­ing with some strong runs down the cen­tre of the field and un­for­tu­nate play from Kyabram-Echuca de­fend­ers saw two de­fen­sive cor­ners in a row awarded.

But the Rats stead­ied them­selves, main­tained com­po­sure and the de­fence of Alexia Kell, Ruth Goode and Narelle Thomp­son ap­peared im­pen­e­tra­ble as they com­bined skil­fully to keep SYC at bay, forc­ing the ball back down the field to the Rats for­wards for con­tin­ued at­tack.

The Kyabram-Echuca girls at­tacked with a vengeance and de­spite the heat, Tonkin said ev­ery­one gave 110 per cent and left noth­ing on the field.

Time was tick­ing away, but the Rats were des­per­ate to put an­other goal on the board and again it was the strength of the young ones in at­tack that put pres­sure on the SYC goalie.

Kee­ley Thomp­son, Fiona Owen and Chloe Kell com­bined to feed the ball down the right side of the field to­wards the Rats goal where Mia Oberin was wait­ing at the top of the cir­cle for her chance.

But upon re­ceiv­ing the ball, rather than be greedy she saw Rachael Costello wait­ing out to the right side and putting all those hours of prac­tice into play, Costello com­pe­tently de­flected the ball past the foot of the SYC goalie putting the Rats up 2-0.

‘‘We’ve come a long way this year, we have a good com­bi­na­tion of ex­pe­ri­ence and youth in our team,’’ Tonkin said.

‘‘We lost our way to­wards the end of the sea­son bat­tling in­juries, but to­day ev­ery­one did their best and we’ve come away with the back-to-back win.’’

The vic­to­ri­ous Kyabram-Echuca Rats. Back - Ruth Goode, Narelle Thom­son, Anthea Mathers, Katie Tonkin, Alexia Kell, Mia Oberin, Fiona Owen, Rachael Costello, Jenna Park, Marie-Therese Shields. Front - Carol Hulme, Ruth Macken­zie, Chloe Kell, Han­nah...

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