Hockey | Victorian State Country Championships
||Wednesday, June 14 2017
| ||Wimmera Hockey Association
|Two teams representing the Wimmera Hockey Association played in the Victorian Country Championships over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, and although neither earned the title in their division, they both performed at a level that compliments the standard of hockey in the Wimmera.
The Open team finished the preliminary rounds in equal second place on the ladder in Division Two, but a count back relegated them to contesting the third place playoff game. This proved to be a tough high scoring game against the pre-tournament favourites, East Gippsland, which the Wimmera lost by only one goal.
The Women’s team played in the A2 Division and finished as runners up having risen from fourth place after the early games to play off in the grand final against a strong Geelong team.
These results are credit to not only the players but the coaches and support staff considering the limited preparations that both squads were able to have together prior to the tournament, and the quality of the opposition that they encountered.
Men’s Senior Country Championships
The Wimmera senior Open team had to venture to a new venue this year for the Men’s Senior Country Championships, which were being hosted at the Greensborough hockey centre in Melbourne’s north eastern suburbs for the first time.
A first up loss to East Gippsland by five goals was followed up with a three all draw with Sunraysia which was being represented by the North West Lightning Under 17 development squad.
Cameron Bardell scored a hat trick of goals in this second game.
The team was placed fourth on the ladder at the end of competition on the first day.
Sunday yielded three wins, with victories over eventual premiers Latrobe by 2 goals, Warrnambool by 3 goals to 2, and by 5 goals over North Central.
Aaron Carter and Darius Cosgrave shared the goals against Latrobe and Brad McKenzie scored twice and Will Gulline, playing in his first senior Country Championships, once against Warrnambool.
The equation going into the final pool game against neighbouring association North Central, was for a six goal victory margin to ensure a berth in the final on Monday afternoon.
In a very fast and competitive game the Wimmera defenders were able to prevent their opponents from scoring, and the forwards scored five goals, to take the team agonizingly close to a place in the title deciding game.
Although they finished equal on both points and goal difference with the second placed team, the next criteria considered when ranking the teams is the total number of goals scored, which saw the Wimmera relegated to third place with only 13 goals to Sunraysia’s 15.
In the play-off game for third and fourth places against East Gippsland, the Wimmera started strongly with Marcus Williamson converting a penalty stroke early in the game to start the scoring.
Both teams then went goal for gaol until late in the game when East Gippsland took the lead and maintained it until the final whistle to win the game.
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 after defeating Latrobe Valley in the final by 6 goals to 4 in a shootout, after both teams had scored three goals at full time.
North Central finished in fifth place after Warrnambool forfeited their play off game.
The Wimmera was also represented by Warracknabeal’s Sandon Schultz who has been selected in the North West Lightning Under 17 squad and played for Sunraysia over the weekend, and by Stuart Hoffman who not only played all six games for the local team in Division Two, but also played for the Goulburn Valley in the Masters division which finished runners-up.
Women’s Senior Country Championships
The Wimmera Hockey Association entered one team in the A2 Division of the Women’s Senior Country Championships which were held at Stead Park in Geelong.
They opened their tournament with a victory over the Goulburn Valley, when Kellie Farquharson and Sophie Robinson both scored in the first half to establish a lead through good team play in the mid field and the forward line.
The Goulburn Valley team was able to score once through a lucky deflection but determined defence prevented them from scoring an equalising goal.
A tougher opponent was encountered in their second game when the Wimmera took on Sunraysia who applied considerable pressure early on and had moved out to a two goal lead by half time by converted two short corners.
This was a very hard and fast game with both teams creating opportunities in their forward lines but solid defence at both ends restricted the scoring to just three goals after Sunraysia scored once more in the second half.
At the half way point of the preliminary games, the Wimmera team was in third place, equal on points with the second placed team.
On Sunday morning the Wimmera team took on the Latrobe Valley and although they had a few opportunities in attack they were unable to convert.
The goal that won the game for Latrobe Valley was a solid tomahawk hit, but goal keeper Rebecca Batchelor was able to successfully defended a stroke to keep the margin to only one goal.
Once again strong defensive kept the Wimmera in the game with many good runs out of defence which were followed through into attack.
Their final preliminary game was against Geelong, and in a very fast paced game the Wimmera midfielders and forwards came very close to scoring on more than one occasion.
The defence performed well under pressure but Geelong was able to find the goals three times, including converting a penalty stroke.
After being defeated by their semi final opponent by 3 goals in the preliminary rounds, the Wimmera slowed down their game which proved to be effective and caught Sunraysia off guard. Some intense marking also did not allow their opponent’s to take the initiative, and a converted short corner by Ellie O’Connor established a one goal lead by half time.
The Sunraysia team lifted their game after the break but the Wimmera players were able to respond and hold them out to win and progress to the ultimate game of the tournament.
Geelong proved to be a challenging opponent in the grand final and although Elly O’Connor scored twice and Maddy Clugston once, three goals were not enough and the Wimmera finished the tournament as runners up in the A2 division.
In the Women’s B division, neighbouring association North Central was defeated by Geelong by a margin of 6 goals to 3.
Open Results - Division Two
Wimmera 0 lost to East Gippsland
Wimmera 3 drew with Sunraysia 3 (Goals - Cameron Bardell)
Wimmera 2 defeated Latrobe Valley 0 (Goals - Darius Cosgrave, Aaron Carter)
Wimmera 3 defeated Warrnambool Two 2 (Goal - Brad McKenzie 2, Will Gulline)
Wimmera 5 defeated North Central 0 (Goals - Jordan Williamson 2, Matt Condy, Ellie Woods, Brad McKenzie)
| ||Pts || GD|
|Latrobe Valley ||12 ||7|
|Sunraysia ||10 ||3|
|Wimmera ||10 ||3|
|East Gippsland ||7 ||3|
|North Central ||2 ||-8|
|Warrnambool ||1 ||-8|
Third Place Playoff Game
Wimmera 4 lost to East Gippsland 5 (Goals - Marcus Williamson 2, Ethan Schilling, Jarrod Knoop)
Women’s Results - A2 Division
Game 1 - Wimmera 2 defeated Goulburn Valley 1 (Goals - Kellie Farquharson, Sophie Robinson)
Game 2 - Wimmera 0 lost to Sunraysia 3
Game 3 - Wimmera 0 lost to Latrobe Valley 1
Game 4 - Wimmera 0 lost to Geelong 3
| ||Pts || GD|
|Geelong ||12 ||11|
|Sunraysia ||9 ||8|
|Latrobe Valley ||4 ||-2|
|Wimmera ||4 ||-5|
|Goulburn Valley ||0 ||-12|
Wimmera 1 defeated Sunraysia 0 (Goal - Elly O’Connor)
A2 Division Grand Final
Wimmera 3 lost to Geelong 5 (Goals - Elly O’Connor 2, Maddy Clugston)
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