Backing up from her starring performance in NSW’s gold medal-winning opens campaign, Orange product Rachel Divall claimed a second gold in as many weeks on Friday, leading the sky blue side to the Hockey Australia Under-21 Indoor Championship.
Divall skippered the NSW side, which also included Bathurst twins Jess and Sarah Watterson and Dubbo’s Emma Corcoran, which did it the hard way in the decider after cruising through the preliminary stages.
NSW waltzed into the grand final with eight straight wins, but promptly fell behind in the decider against Western Australia and the sky blues were forced to not just fight back and equalise, but then hold their nerve in a shoot-out.
They did just that, with goalkeeper Tegan Lamond standing up at crunch time, allowing Divall and Jess Watterson to shoot NSW to victory.
Corcoran had stated earlier in the week after two days of competition Western Australia was the best side NSW had come across so few were surprised when the two met in the decider at Wollongong.
It also wasn’t as surprise to see NSW concede that first goal as that was a common occurrence throughout the campaign, although, the lack of sky blue goals immediately afterward had a major boilover looking likely.
Western Australia opened the scoring from open play after just four minutes in the 40-minute match and that was how it stayed until the break.
In an incredibly tactical and even match, the Western Australians held that lead well into the second half.
Western Australia, who had lost 2-1 and 4-3 to NSW in their two preliminary clashes, looked destined to score a stunning upset but with just one minute remaining Kelsey Hughes slotted and equaliser for the sky blues.
It stayed 1-1 until the final whistle and then it came down to penalties.
Lamond saved both of Western Australia’s attempts while Watterson and Divall slotted theirs, giving NSW a 2-0 penalty shoot-out win and sending the sky blues’ players and supporters into raptures.
Divall scored four times during the tournament, finding the net against Victoria twice and ACT twice as well.