Confederates’ brilliant start to the 2017 women’s Premier League Hockey season continued on Saturday courtesy of a thrilling 2-1 win over Bathurst St Pat’s.
Played at the Orange Hockey Centre, the hosts started the round four encounter the better of the two sides, knocking in goals through Rach Divall and then Maggie Smith, before hanging tough defensively late to withstand a monumental St Pat’s barrage in the dying stages of the clash.
Last week, it was the same deal.
The young blue and reds flexed their defensive muscle late to leave Lithgow with a 3-2 win over Zig Zag.
Two years ago, even 12 months ago, Feds wouldn’t have come away with any points on either of those occasions, let alone the maximum four points a win brings.
And coach Fiona Reith knows it too.
Her side is now sitting second on the competition ladder, differential the only thing separating Feds and ladder-leaders Bathurst City.
The 2017 season is shaping up nicely for Confederates.
28 | Maggie Smith scores for Feds!! Great little touch off a classy pass from Allcorn. It's 2-0. Challenge now for Pats #PLH17— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) May 20, 2017
“It’s a double-edged sword though,” Reith warned, not prepared to let her side get too carried away with three wins from their opening four games.
“I’ve got to manage those expectations as well, but they’re starting to believe.
“Last week against Zig Zag, it was a hard win, but we were saying how historically it would have been us losing a game in the dying minutes.
“(Against St Pat’s), those experienced girls really stood up … I’m very happy of them.”
Divall opened the scoring for the hosts six minutes in, her sweep to the left of Pat’s keeper Tracey Gunning too slick as Feds shot to a 1-0 lead.
At that point St Pat’s rallied, and probably should have hit back on three separate occasions if it weren’t for the sensational work between the sticks from Feds keeper Kath Cox.
After Cox’s pads deflected a classy Pat’s raid that netted the blue and whites a short corner shot at the 26-minute mark, Feds struck again, this time through Smith.
The young striker got a deft touch on a great pass from Millah Allcorn nearing the half-hour mark, the red and blues’ advantage bumping out to two goals.
As good as Cox was in the first half for Feds, Pat’s mini resurgence in the second half was on the back of some equally stunning saves from the pads of Gunning.
The gun stopper defied a cracker of a strike from Divall mid-way through the term, the ensuring counter attack securing the visitors a short corner.
62 | Divall goes within inches of icing it for Feds - incredible save by Pats Tracey Gunning. Still 2-0 #PLH17— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) May 20, 2017
The set piece is never an easy task on a surface renowned as being a touch bumpy at Orange, but, on this occasion St Pat’s nailed it.
A blazing strike from the stick Sophie Conroy found the blade of Ella Menzies, the slight touch good enough to sneak past Cox’s mits and shoot St Pat’s into the contest.
With three minutes to go Eva Reith-Snare went within centimetres of icing the win for Feds, her strike ricocheting off the post.
But, despite St Pat’s flooding the attacking circle, Feds’ defence held firm, completing a memorable win for the young side and inflicting St Pat’s with their first loss of the season.
Saints skipper Kristy Ekert said Feds were simply too good.
“We had a much better second half, but there’s still plenty of improvement to do,” she said.
“But we can’t take anything away from them, they played well and deserved to win.
“We knew they were a quality team, we played twice in trials, it was one-each, but we knew it was going to be tough.”
CONFEDERATES 2 (Maggie Smith, Rach Divall) def BATHURST ST PAT’S 1 (Ella Menzies)