Eva Reith-Snare’s NSW Blues finished their Hockey Australia Under-21 Women’s National Championship tilt on a high on Wednesday to secure fifth place while for Hayden Dillon and his NSW side, shootouts proved the bane of their men’s title defence.
Reith-Snare’s side went through the pool stage winless before winning two of its three finals, the Confederates star and her teammates finishing their campaign with a 2-1 victory over the ACT in the women’s fifth-place play-off.
That win, which came thanks to Georgina Mallon’s final-minute match-winner, came after a shootout victory over Western Australia.
The two sides remained deadlocked at 2-all at full-time, before Reith-Snare’s Blues, a side that also include Dubbo’s Emma Corcoran, flourished under the pressure of one-on-ones to win the shootout 3-1.
Lexie Pickering, Mallon and Em Chaffey all scored their one-on-one attempts and while Alley Hanagan’s attempt sailed wide, it mattered little as only Jolie Sertorio was successful for Western Australia.
On the other hand Dillon, a former Orange Wanderers gun now playing in Newcastle, and his side faltered under that shootout pressure twice in the play-offs, ultimately finishing sixth.
The first of those losses came in the semi-final against eventual champions Tasmania and ended the side’s tilt for a second straight title, the second in the fifth-place play-off against Queensland.
After finishing on top of its pool with two wins and a loss Dillon’s NSW side drew 3-all with Tasmania after regulation time in the semi-final, before four misses in the shootout proved dire.
While Dillon slotted his attempt, Isaac Farmilo, Parkes’ Kurt Lovett, Oliver Flack and Ehren Hazell – the latter scored all three of NSW’s goals in regulation time – all missed theirs, the Tasmanian’s claiming the win thanks to Jack Welch and Hayden Beltz’s successful shots.
Dillon’s side regrouped to down the NSW Blues 6-nil before, in the fifth-place play-off, once again being forced into a shootout after remaining deadlocked at 3-all with Queensland.
Michael Francis nailed Queensland’s first attempt and Daine Richards did the same for NSW, before Blake Wotherspoon’s successful attempt gave the maroons a 2-1 advantage.
Dillon, who’d scored in regular time, missed his attempt but so did Queensland’s Jacob Anderson, before Lovett squared the ledger at 2-all next up.
But a Hazell miss either side of Doug Buckley and Tyler Spry’s goals sealed NSW’s fate.
While Reith-Snare, just 16, returns to Confederates’ side to bolster its women’s Premier League Hockey campaign Dillon returns to Newcastle, with his attention shifting to this year’s Australian Hockey League later this year as well.