After claiming a silver medal in 2016 Orange coach Adam Hurford knew his side would be competitive at last weekend’s Hockey NSW Under 18s Boys’ Indoor Championships at Goulburn, but just how competitive the side ended up being was a massive surprise even for him.
Hurford’s troops dominated division two, finishing undefeated, hoisting the state title aloft as a result and earning promotion to division one for next year’s tournament as well.
“The boys killed it,” Hurford enthused.
“Everything just, sort of, clicked during the tournament and our confidence grew with every win we had.
“Honestly, I knew we’d be competitive because a lot of the guys played in the side that came second last year, but I was thinking a lot would have to go our way for us to be grand final competitive, let alone gold medal competitive.”
Orange waltzed through the group stage, winning all five of its games in commanding fashion. A 4-2 win over Wagga Wagga was the closest any side came to the eventual champions.
Orange drew 1-1 with Parkes in the semi-final but progressed on a countback, before Henry Jones lit the decider up with a player-of-the-final performance.
He found the back of the net four times in the gold medal game, as Orange comfortably defeated Nepean 6-3.
“Henry was incredible in that grand final, definitely one of the stand-outs,” Hurford said, although he was hesitant to highlight too many individuals.
The boys killed it. Everything just, sort of, clicked during the tournament.Orange coach Adam Hurford
“Honestly, I know people say it a lot, but everyone contributed and it really was a great team effort. If I absolutely had to pick three guys though, Henry is one, Connor Morris scored 16 goals across the seven games and Sam McDonald was really good too.”
Although he acknowledged how big a step up his side’s promotion will be, Hurford said he’s confident Orange can do well in the top grade in 2018.
“It will be a huge step up, but we only lose one guys next year in Michael Pengilly, the rest of the guys should be around for another one or two years,” Hurford said.
“There’s a few things we’ll need to adapt to, bigger courts and such, and the guys we’ll be playing against play a lot of indoor hockey. If they’re not playing or training for field hockey, they’re playing indoor.
“So it’ll be tough, but hopefully we can do well.”