Tasmania’s Under 21 Women had another strong win in the national championships currently being played in Lismore, NSW, beating New South Wales Blue 2-1 to qualify for the 5 v 6 playoff tomorrow.
After a rough opening few minutes, conceding first to NSWB, the Tasmanian Women bounced back quickly with Molly Haas equalising from a penalty corner.
Team Physio Ian McHugh said that, while conceding an early goal may have caused heads to drop briefly, it was something discussed among the team and support staff throughout the tournament, and the team very quickly rebounded.
Georgia Williams converted a penalty stroke in the second quarter to give Tasmania a well-deserved lead. She said that despite going behind early the team adjusted quickly to counteract NSWB’s tactics.
“It was just a really good team game. Lots of passing, lots of help, and good tackling,” she said.
“The feeling at the moment is amazing. It’s hard to explain, but the way we’re connecting with each other on and off the field has been brilliant and really encouraging. Tonight the girls were so pumped up after the win. We’ve enjoyed every minute playing and representing Tassie.”
McHugh said it was great to see the group improving over the course of the championships and that they deserved the results and celebrations.
“They were pretty ecstatic with the win today. It was fantastic to see them up and about, and there were some well-deserved celebrations on the final siren,” he said.
“For all the support staff who have been with the group over the last few years it’s been great to see them develop and improve. Macca [Coach Andrew McDonald] has been really good at motivating the group and fostering a positive environment for the girls to play in.”
The Under 21 Women finish their tournament in the 5 v 6 classification match tomorrow at 3:20pm.
The Tasmanian Under 21 Men were less lucky as they fell to a 2-4 defeat at the hands of Queensland.
A controversial opening goal many argued came after the first quarter siren had sounded gave Queensland the early lead, but the Tasmanian’s hit back almost immediately on the resumption of play with Linden McCarthy tucking away a penalty corner variation that initially rebounded off the post from an Oliver Smith deflection.
Queensland did retake the lead and extend it with goals either side of half-time, but Joshua Brooks nailed a penalty corner variation to open the final quarter to give the Tasmanian men a sniff. However another Queensland goal late in the game ended their hopes of a comeback.
Captain McCarthy remained upbeat and said the team knows that it’s all been down to not taking their chances in the circle.
“The team’s still pretty positive. We’re obviously disappointed with the results, but know we’re a better team than they suggest, and while it’s tough to take those losses, we’ve created so many opportunities that we can’t really blame anyone but ourselves,” he said.
Coach Benjamin Read was full of praise for how his side has handled a tough tournament and the high expectations on the team going in.
“They’ve all put in a massive effort, just been extraordinarily unlucky. I’ve never been involved in a team that’s created so many chances and had so little luck in front of goal. But to their credit they’ve stayed positive and haven’t been blaming each other or umpires, so that’s been a real positive,” he said.
He’s keen to see his side get some reward for their performances in their final match tomorrow, and is wary of the mental challenge that faces them to stay motivated.
“We just want to be really positive. There is a danger with the early game and the 7/8 playoff not being what we wanted pre-tournament that we end up getting a negative result based on an unfocused performance. We’ll just try to focus on a good 60 minute performance and keep 11 on the pitch, and that will go a long way to getting the result we deserve,” he said.
McCarthy agreed that his side is hungry for one last crack at success.
“Our main motivation now is not finishing last. We would hate to go from winning the title last year to wooden spoon.”
The men will play the A.C.T. in the 7 v 8 classification match at 8:50am tomorrow morning.
*Photo provided by Carolyn Scutt