It’s time for everyone to step up.
That’s the message Confederates coach Fiona Reith sent to her side in the lead-up to Saturday’s women’s Premier League Hockey minor semi-final against Bathurst St Pat’s, a landmark post-season appearance for the Orange unit.
It’s no cliche born from the fact it’s the side’s biggest game since re-entering the competition in 2012 either, it’s a necessity considering Confederates are without two of their best players so far this season.
Skipper Annabelle Tierney has left to play at the college level in the USA while Rach Hoey is on NSW Country duty, leaving a big hole in the side leading into this weekend’s sudden-death, third-versus-fourth play-off.
“Those two do leave a very big hole in our forward-line, there’s no doubt about that,” Reith said.
“So everyone will need to step up, it’s actually a really good chance for our other players to do that.”
Reith said all her troops recognise the fact they need to do that too and after training well in the lead-up to Saturday, she’s confident they will.
“I don’t think the enormity of making it through actually hit the girls until this week,” Reith said.
“But they’re all really excited now, they’re just pumped to get out and give it a real crack and if we manage to get through, you know, woohoo.”
In sudden-death hockey the side which can maintain pressure for the longest often comes out on top, a fact not lost on Reith. Crucially, that’s something her side has been doing for longer periods every week.
“We’ve been playing well in periods all year but there has been times we’ve sort of fallen out of games as well, but in the last few games we’ve playing very well, for much longer periods,” Reith said.
“We’ll need to keep that pressure on against St Pat’s, being a side much more structured than us.
“They have that structure to fall back on if things go pear-shaped so you have to keep the pressure on. We don’t have that structure as much, but we do have a bit of unpredictability in our favour, we’ve got a few players who can pull something from thin air.”
As everyone in women’s PLH circles knows, there is one huge danger in the Saints’ forward line.
“We look at Kristy Ekert the same we do (Lithgow Panthers ace) Abby Wilson,” Reith said.
“She can just be floating around and then bang, she’s put one in the back of the net so we will have to try and restrict her.
“Rachel Pengilly will have a big job at the back in that regard but she’s coming off her best game of the year last weekend against Panthers and I’m sure she can back that up.”
Saturday’s minor semi-final starts at 4pm, in Bathurst.