A dramatic final round of pool matches in the Australian Under 15 Championships has produced heartbreak for Tasmania, with the Girls side denied a shot at a medal match by a single goal scored in the final two minutes of the day.
Tasmania’s Under 15 Girls finished equal top of their pool with 12 points from 5 matches, exactly the same as NSW State and Queensland Maroon, but were bumped down to a third-placed finish on goal difference, with just a single goal separating them from QLD.
At the end of the pool phase of the championships QLD Maroon finished with a goal difference of +10, while Tasmania finished with a goal difference of +9. Adding to the heartbreak, QLD Maroon only secured a second-place pool finish with a goal in the second-last minute of their match against VIC Development – the final match of the day, meaning that the Tassie Girls had to ride an emotional wave right to the end to find out they had been knocked out of medal contention.
They had done everything right to start the day, securing a 2-0 win over ACT after Maddison Brooks (43’) and Emma Fenner (44’) scored back-to-back field goals.
Coach Sofie McLeod was once again proud of the way her team played, saying they did exactly what they knew they needed to do by getting the win and that the rest was out of their control.
“I’m obviously devastated for the girls, not to be playing the semi-finals, because they’ve had such a good tournament and won four games. Usually that would get you into a medal match, but now we’re just focusing on tomorrow’s game and playing how we have all tournament,” she said.
“They’ve played a great brand of hockey, and we’ve had comments from other states and parents about the way the Tassie Girls have gone about it.”
Hockey Tasmania CEO Damian Smith shared their disappointment but reiterated just how well they’ve played to achieve what they have.
“We’re proud of their achievements so far, to do what they’ve done and miss out on a medal opportunity by a single goal is really unlucky,” he said.
Victoria Fish said the team played as well against ACT as they have all tournament.
“We definitely played for each other and created opportunities, it’s just disappointing we couldn’t get more goals,” she said.
“We’re focusing on the positives now. We’re disappointed, but we’ve played a really good tournament so far.”
The Under 15 Boys also finished their pool phase with a 2-0 win over Northern Territory, to secure a third-place finish in their pool as well.
A tough and challenging first half saw the scores locked at 0-0 and Tasmania earn two green cards and one yellow. They took the game up to NT in the second half and were rewarded for their efforts, with Kiah House (43’) once again putting his name on the score sheet, earning a penalty stroke and then converting it himself.
Milo Gee (53’) also scored again, his second goal from a penalty corner, to make sure of the win.
Coach Nathan Dart said his team was now being rewarded for their consistent efforts, maturity, composure, and hard work. After a tough start to the Championships the Boys now know what level they need to play at to win and want to finish the tournament as strongly as possible.
“Once again we improved on our last effort, and while we’re still working on our one-percenters and other things, we’re ultimately pretty happy,” he said.
Jaxon Sproule said that his team knew what they had to do to get the win and stuck to their plans despite the cards and not being able to score in the first half.
“We just tried to focus on our structure, to not go for goal straight away. We just locked it down in the first half and then pushed in the second half to get the goals,” he said.
“I think it’s been good to get a few wins, and build some momentum towards the end of the tournament, but I think it’d be good to try to finish fifth.”
Both teams now enter into the first round of classification days. The Girls will play Queensland Gold at 9am tomorrow, while the Boys will play ACT at 10:30am.