ORANGE player-coach Mel Hope is adamant the expectations on her side’s Hockey NSW Open Women Field State Championship campaign shouldn’t be judged on the low rankings of the three Orange women’s Premier League Hockey sides that make up the team in 2014.
Ex-Services are the best of the three Orange outfits in sixth place following two wins and three draws from 10 rounds.
Slow starters Kinross-CYMS have won three games but remain in ninth position after having competition points deducted for fielding an unregistered player in round one, while Feds are winless in 10th spot.
This year’s Orange open women’s squad has been drawn solely from those teams.
Ahead of her side’s outing in division two this long weekend, Hope was predicting a return to form for some of the city’s premier women’s players.
“Each side in premier league has had its issues this year,” she said.
“(Kinross-CYMS) lost points at the start of the season and we’ve struggled to score goals this year, but I think the combination of the two, the side is mainly CYMS and Ex-Services, might work to our advantage.
“It’s a great group of girls and we all get along really well.”
Competing in division two’s Pool A, Orange will tackle Illawarra in their first game this morning before taking on New England this afternoon.
The pool stage of the championships will end with a Manning Valley hit-out and a grudge match with Lithgow tomorrow.
Hope said her side’s clash with Lithgow, a side that’s fallen a division after lagging behind in division one last year, will be Orange’s toughest. But she’s confident her side will handle it.
And with NSW state under 18s representatives like Madie Smith and Chloe Barratt in the 14-strong squad, Hope was banking on tapping into that experience throughout the championship at Albion Park.
“I coached the under 18s girls this year and whenever I had the chance I’d have a chat to Madie, she’s got such a good hockey brain and such an integral part of the team. Their input is important,” she said.
Hope will be joined by player-coach Leanne Kennewell, with Michelle Barratt and Beth Shea to look after the squad off-field.
“Leanne and I will do a bit of the coaching on-field, I’m struggling a little bit with injury so I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend on the field. I’m sure the older girls will be pretty vocal though,” she laughed.
Orange’s first game is at 11.45am on Saturday against Illawarra.