LOOKING to put last weekend’s narrow semi-final loss behind them, Orange Ex-Services will today attempt to “frustrate” an in-form Bathurst Souths into elimination.
Facing Bathurst St Pat’s in the women’s Premier Leaguie Hockey qualyfing semi-final last weekend, Ex-Services scored the opening goal of the match through Mel Hope only to watch on as St Pat’s scored the final two to win the clash.
The Esther Hotham match-winner came inside the final two minutes.
The heartbreaking 2-1 defeat now leaves Servies with the unenviable task of tackling Souths, a team that’s won its last six games.
Rather than see the task as daunting, Ex-Services coach Mitch Kennewell believes today’s minor semi-final showdown with the two blues is the perfect opportunity for his girls to prove why they can go all the way.
He said defence was the key.
“It just comes down to marking,” Kennewell said ahead of the sudden-death clash in Orange.
“Last week we tried to stick to the game plan but we just gave them too much room to shift the ball and we ended up defending the whole game.
“If we can do that then we’ll frustrate most teams out of the game.”
Ex-Services will boast a healthy roster going into today’s game, meaning NSW Country representative Sam Hopwood is back, as are the previously injured Ebony Press and Kate Butcherine.
The fresh legs will help as Kennewell aims for Ex-Services to finish off each half strongley.
Against a speedy and youthful Souths, the injection of fresh reserves will be crucial as the last remaining Orange PLH outfit, men’s or women’s, attempts to keep the city’s dream of a hockey title in 2013 alive.
“I suppose I haven’t seen a lot of Souths, but I’m told they’re quite strong in defence and in the midfield, they’ve also got a couple of fast girls up front,” he said.
“I think tight marking will sort all of that out.”
Today’s clash begins at 2.30pm at the Orange Hockey Centre.
Lithgow Panthers takes on St Pat’s in the major semi-final, with the winner to host this year’s decider.