BATHURST St Pat’s might have saved one of their worst performance of 2013 for Saturday’s women’s Premier League Hockey major semi-final, but somehow the Saints still found a way to beat Orange Ex-Services 2-1.
In a game that never really reached any great heights, extra-time looked like a very real possibility.
Ex-Services scored the opening goal in the second half, but seven minutes later the Saints responded.
The winner came from Esther Hotham with one minute, 42 seconds left on the clock.
Ex-Services coach Mitch Kennewell was happy with the effort of his players as they managed to frustrate a team which boasts more big-game experience.
While they are now in a sudden-death situation, he said he saw good improvement across the field.
“We held them out for as long as we could ... but the game goes for 70 minutes and you have to keep on keeping on,” he said.
“It’s one of the better games I have seen them play, the way they moved the ball around.
“The communication was the main thing, it has been lacking, the girls know what to do but it had really been missing. Today though we communicated well in defence, they were all speaking, all hyped up and ready for it.”
Chances were few in the opening half, three Pat’s penalty corners and a quick counter-attack from fleet-footed Ex-Services talent Haley Butcherine the best of them.
As Ex-Services pulled players back behind the ball, St Pat’s struggled to find a way into the circle, even though they enjoyed plenty of possession in an attacking position
That trend continued after the break, but finally a goal came.
It was Ex-Services’ first penalty corner of the match which broke the deadlock, Melanie Hope’s strike taking a deflection which put it beyond the reach of outstretched Pat’s goalkeeper Karen Fieldus.
St Pat’s squared the ledger when they capitalised on good use of the advantage ruling, Amy Boye slotting home on the back post, but those two goals in relatively quick time did not really open things up.
Fieldus made a smart one-on-one save with just over eight minutes left when Butcherine got in behind the defence, but other than that neither goalkeeper was tested as time ticked away.
That was until Hotham struck, Carly Sandry picking her out as she played on quickly from a free hit.
Pat’s coach Bec Clayton knew her side were lucky to escape with the win.
“I honestly haven’t seen us play that flat for a long time, that first half was probably one of the worst halves we have played all year, we just kept hitting the ball to them,” she said.
BATHURST ST PAT’S 2 def ORANGE EX-SERVICES 1