Victoria has claimed both the men’s and women’s Australian Hockey League titles in penalty shootouts after a dramatic final day at the Perth Hockey Stadium bringing to a close both the men’s and women’s Australian Hockey League and the Under 13 boys and girls Australian carnivals.
The men’s team, the Vikings, went back to back following on from breaking a 17 year hoodoo in 2016, defeating the Queensland Blades. The hero of the final was goalkeeper of the tournament, Johan Durst, who saw off three shootout attempts without conceding allowing the Vikings a 3-0 win.
Earlier Daniel Beale opened the scoring for the Blades with a rebound attempt midway through the third quarter. It was fitting that Beale scored the opener, having instigated the play in the left attacking third with a steal and an excellent one two before setting up Joel Rental for the initial shot at goal, the ball falling kindly to Beale who had followed up his initial good work.
While dominating possession (54 per cent), the Vikings were unable to convert that pressure into quality goalscoring opportunities until captain Chris Ciriello equalised seven minutes into the last quarter with the Vikings third penalty corner attempt. Ciriello had the chance to win the game inside the last two two minutes with Victoria’s fourth penalty corner for the match however, Robert Bell produced a magnificent goal-line save sending the game into a shootout.
Earlier in the day, the Victorian women’s team, the Vipers snatched a 2-2 draw against the Queensland Scorchers, through a Georgia Nanscawen goal in the last minute of regulation to force the match into a shootout.
The Vipers got the scoreboard going inside the last minute of the first quarter through a nice tap in goal to Emily Hurtz. Hockeyroo and goalkeeper of the tournament Rachel Lynch more than proving her worth, helping the Vipers hang onto their slender lead until the fourth quarter drama.
The final quarter delivered action aplenty with Vipers Nicola Hammond receiving a yellow card in the 49th minute allowing the Scorchers to hold the ball and pressure the Vipers goal. The numerical advantage proved decisive with Renee Taylor bringing the scores level at 1-1 in the 51st minute before Madison Fitzpatrick slotted an excellent drag flick inside the left post in the 53rd minute putting the Scorchers 2-1 up.
The Vipers, having lost the 2016 final to the Scorchers sacrificing Lynch for an extra field player and it paid dividends when Nanscawen fired home from a narrow angle to send the game into a shootout.
Lynch would prove the hero in the shootout backing up her, denying four Scorchers attempts, while Nicola Hammond had a chance to redeem herself after her costly yellow card, putting the winning goal into the top left corner with a feisty tomahawk.
The Scorchers will probably look at it as one that slipped away having had the lions share of the scoring opportunities 12 -5 in shots, 7-4 in penalty corners and having lead 2-1 inside the last minute.
In other matches New South Wales clinched both bronze medals with the Waratahs coming back from 2-0 down inside ten minutes to defeat India 3-2, while for the women the Arrows defeated New Zealand 5-1.
Meanwhile, in the Under 13 Australian Carnivals the Queensland Cinders have prevented a Victorian clean sweep, taking out the Girls title, Queensland proving the strongest state with their second side the Embers finishing third as well.
While for the boys Victoria Blue finished the round robin carnival on top, however Western Australia were the strongest state with its two teams (Storm and Lightning) finish second and fourth overall.
Award Winners – Australian Hockey League Men
Gold Medal – Victoria Vikings
Silver Medal – Queensland Blades
Bronze Medal – New South Wales Waratahs
Player of the Final – Robert Bell (Queensland Blades)
Player of the Tournament – Mark Knowles (Queensland Blades)
Goalkeeper of the Tournament – Johan Durst (Victoria Vikings)
Top Goalscorer – Chris Ciriello (Victoria Vikings) and Kieron Arthur (Tassie Tigers) 9
Play the Whistle – Queensland Blades
Gold Medal – Victoria Vipers
Silver Medal – Queensland Scorchers
Bronze Medal – New South Wales Arrows
Player of the Final – Rachel Lynch (Victoria Vipers)
Player of the Tournament – Stephanie Kershaw (Queensland Scorchers)
Goalkeeper of the Tournament – Rachel Lynch (Victoria Vipers)
Top Goalscorer – Emily Hurtz (Victoria Vipers), Emily Smith (New South Wales Arrows) and Penny Squibb (WA Diamonds) 7
Play the Whistle – Victoria Vipers
The Kookaburras missed a medal and the semi-final round at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the first time they have missed the medal round since the 1980 boycott (2012 was eight in a row), a record better than all the other top-ten ranked nations in the world.