Strong show­ing at cham­pi­onships

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY SI­MON KING

Two teams rep­re­sent­ing Wim­mera Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion in Vic­to­rian Coun­try Cham­pi­onships at the week­end per­formed at a level com­ple­ment­ing the stan­dard of hockey in the re­gion.

The open team fin­ished pre­lim­i­nary rounds in equal sec­ond place in di­vi­sion two, but a count­back rel­e­gated it to con­test­ing the third-place play-off game.

The play-off proved to be a tough high-scor­ing match against pre-tour­na­ment favourite East Gipp­s­land, which won by a goal.

The women’s team played in an A2 di­vi­sion and fin­ished run­ner-up, hav­ing risen from fourth place af­ter early games to play off in a grand fi­nal against Geelong.

The re­sults were a credit to the play­ers, coaches and sup­port staff.

Men’s cham­pi­onships

Wim­mera se­nior open team ven­tured to Greens­bor­ough hockey cen­tre in Mel­bourne’s north-eastern sub­urbs for its matches.

A first-up five-goal loss to East Gipp­s­land was fol­lowed by a three­all draw with Sun­raysia, rep­re­sented by a North West Light­ning un­der-17 de­vel­op­ment squad. Cameron Bardell scored a hat-trick of goals in the sec­ond game. The team was fourth on the lad­der af­ter the first day.

Sun­day yielded three Wim­mera wins, with vic­to­ries over even­tual premier La­trobe by two goals, War­rnam­bool 3-2 and by five over North Cen­tral. Aaron Carter and Dar­ius Cos­grave shared goals against La­trobe, Brad Mcken­zie scored twice and Will Gulline, in his first se­nior cham­pi­onships, once against War­rnam­bool.

The equa­tion go­ing into the fi­nal pool game against neigh­bour­ing as­so­ci­a­tion North Cen­tral was for a six­goal vic­tory mar­gin to en­sure a berth in Mon­day’s fi­nal.

In a fast and com­pet­i­tive game, Wim­mera de­fend­ers pre­vented their op­po­nents from scor­ing while for­wards scored five goals, to take the team ag­o­niz­ingly close to a place in the cham­pi­onship de­cider.

Al­though Wim­mera fin­ished equal on both points and goal dif­fer­ence with the sec­ond-placed team, the next cri­te­ria con­sid­ered when rank­ing the teams was the num­ber of goals scored. This led to Wim­mera be­ing rel­e­gated to third place with 13 goals to Sun­raysia’s 15.

In the play-off for third and fourth against East Gipp­s­land, Wim­mera started strongly with Mar­cus Wil­liamson con­vert­ing a penalty stroke early in the game.

Teams then went goal for goal un­til late in the game when East Gipp­s­land took the lead.

Wil­liamson scored a sec­ond goal and Ethan Schilling and Jar­rod Knoop scored one each to make the fi­nal tally of four goals.

Sun­raysia won the di­vi­sion-two ti­tle, beat­ing La­trobe Val­ley in the fi­nal 6-4. North Cen­tral fin­ished in fifth place.

War­rackn­abeal’s San­don Schultz, who has been se­lected in the North West Light­ning un­der-17 squad, played for Sun­raysia.

Women’s cham­pi­onships

Wim­mera as­so­ci­a­tion en­tered one team in the women’s A2 di­vi­sion at Stead Park, Geelong.

The team opened the tour­na­ment with vic­tory over Goul­burn Val­ley, when Kel­lie Far­quhar­son and So­phie Robinson scored in the first half to es­tab­lish a lead.

Goul­burn Val­ley scored through a lucky de­flec­tion but de­ter­mined de­fence pre­vented it from scor­ing an equal­is­ing goal.

Wim­mera en­coun­tered a tougher op­po­nent in Sun­raysia, which moved out to a two-goal lead by half time. In a hard and fast game with both teams cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and solid de­fence at both ends, Sun­raysia scored once more in the sec­ond half.

At the half­way point of pre­lim­i­nary games, Wim­mera was third on points with the sec­ond-placed team.

On Sun­day morn­ing Wim­mera took on La­trobe Val­ley and was un­able to con­vert. La­trobe Val­ley won the game.

Wim­mera’s fi­nal pre­lim­i­nary game was against Geelong.

The de­fence per­formed well un­der pres­sure but Geelong found the goals three times, in­clud­ing a penalty-stroke con­ver­sion.

Af­ter los­ing to its semi-fi­nal op­po­nent by three goals in pre­lim­i­nary rounds, Wim­mera slowed its game which proved ef­fec­tive in catch­ing Sun­raysia off guard.

In­tense mark­ing also failed to al­low Sun­raysia to take the ini­tia­tive, and a con­verted short cor­ner by El­lie O’con­nor es­tab­lished a one-goal Wim­mera lead by half time.

Sun­raysia lifted af­ter the break but the Wim­mera play­ers were able to re­spond and pro­gressed to the ul­ti­mate game of the tour­na­ment.

Geelong proved to be a chal­leng­ing op­po­nent in the grand fi­nal and al­though El­lie O’con­nor scored twice and Maddy Clugston once, three goals were not enough and Wim­mera fin­ished run­ner-up.

IN­TENSE: op­po­nent. Wim­mera’s Ethan Schilling puts pres­sure on a La­trobe Val­ley Pic­ture: SI­MON KING

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