The Tasmanian Under 21 Men have started their title-defence with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Queensland on the opening day of the national championships in Lismore, NSW.
After conceding two early goals in the first quarter and taking the same scoreline into the half-time break there was plenty of work to be done to rectify the situation.
Coach Ben Read said that the team didn’t start the way he planned and the early goals came from some poor errors that were not typical of his players.
“We were very much caught on the back foot and done in by the pace of the game,” he said.
“But in the second half we really got things working and started to put it together.”
The 3rd quarter saw Tasmania mount a stunning comeback in the space of five minutes to turn the deficit into a lead, with Sam McCulloch slamming home a hat-trick of penalty corner conversions one after the other to leave Queensland reeling.
“I was happy to put them in, but they came from good team build up, so it was just good that we were getting positive outcomes in the circle,” McCulloch said.
Read said that McCulloch’s hat-trick was just reward for how the team was playing after the first quarter, but there was late drama in the match with Queensland earning a penalty stroke in the final minute after a PC shot struck Robert Chapman’s foot on the line.
Queensland converted from the spot to equalise and nearly stole all the points with a PC on the siren, but overall Read and the team were disappointed not to hold on to the win but happy with the result in the end.
“We were pretty disappointed not to get the win, because we know we’re a pretty good group and can beat the others teams at our best,” McCulloch said.
“We’re pretty happy with the draw after our start,” said Read.
“Having a bad quarter in the first quarter of the tournament is probably a good time to have it.”
The team faces a red-hot Western Australia at midday tomorrow.
“We’re confident that if we play the hockey we want to play we can beat anyone, but they’re a quality opposition and we know they’ll be full of confidence going in,” said Read.
The Tasmanian Under 21 Women also conceded early in their opening match against Victoria, but fought their way back into the match, eventually losing 1-3.
Despite being 0-2 down after the third quarter Tasmania hit back early in the final quarter with Molly Haas converting from a penalty corner with a simple back-to-injector variation that lifted the side.
Despite including several imports the side gelled remarkably well.
“Everyone played so well. It felt like they had been training with us for months even though they only just joined us,” said goalscorer Haas.
“Everyone is so positive after the game. No one was upset with themselves, Macca [Coach Andrew McDonald] was pleased, and it was a good outcome.
“We were disappointed not to win, but that’s good because it felt like we were in it the whole time.
“The first game is always the worst. Everyone is nervous. We definitely wanted the first game over and done with, but now we’re keen to get a win. We’re all going come out fighting tomorrow,” said Haas.
The Women have a great opportunity against the A.C.T. at 1pm tomorrow.