Brisbane Blaze Women have returned to the JDH Hockey One League summit after a blistering final quarter performance lifted them to a 4-1 grand final win against a gallant Canberra Chill side.
Brisbane redeemed themselves from last year’s grand final defeat with a commanding second half.
In a fierce opening term that saw several heavy clashes, the two sides traded early set piece opportunities before Rosie Malone failed to connect with a first timed effort on the Chill goal.
The match opened up after the first break, with Chill midfielders Mikaela Patterson and Sarah Hawkshaw combining to earn a penalty corner after 19 minutes.
After Kaitlin Cotter’s flick was initially saved, Patterson regathered and fed Kalindi Commerford, who skilfully turned the ball across goal for the waiting Katie Mullan to open the scoring to the roar of the parochial home crowd.
A moment of sheer brilliance from Kershaw and teammate Brit Wilkinson drew the Blaze back into the clash, with an incisive pass re-directed by the latter into the far corner for the leveller.
Chill keeper Rene Hunter recovered to deny Wilkinson’s conversion opportunity and the hosts nearly re-gathered their advantage, but Commerford couldn’t make clean connection on a first-time opportunity.
Brisbane lifted their defensive work in the final twenty minutes, fighting to earn possession in their front half and it took a sensational goal line save from Samantha Economos and the woodwork on the rebound shot to deny Dayle Dolkens twice from close range.
That let off set up a nail-biting final term, but the visitors lifted a gear and Dolkens finally got her goal after sister Casey’s initial penalty corner flick fortuitously fell to her to knock home after 56 minutes.
Forced to chase the match, Canberra withdrew Hunter and the Chill were undone as they threw the kitchen sink at an equaliser.
Brisbane’s Savannah Fitzpatrick completed a sweeping counter attacking move to cue celebrations and give the Queenslanders a second Hockey One League women’s title in three seasons.
“We knew it was going to be a really tough and physical match but we knew if we stuck to our game plan, believed in each other and backed each other up, we knew could get across the line and I think that showed in the second half,” said Kershaw.
“We just had to keep persisting and knew eventually they would break, so we kept to the game plan and eventually it paid off.”
“Playing for Queensland is something I hold really close to my heart. It’s where I develop and played all my junior hockey, so to play with this team and these girls means a lot to me, so I’m really proud we were able to utilise our whole 22 players in the squad over the season.”
“It shows the depth of talent in Queensland and I’m super proud top continue the legacy we’ve been building over the past couple of decades.”
A late penalty stroke from Hockey One League MVP Kaitlin Nobbs wasn’t enough for NSW Pride, who fell 2-1 to the Perth Thundersticks in the bronze medal clash, with Thundersticks defender Penny Squibb awarded player of the match.
In the women’s bronze medal match, goals from Hockeyroos defender Penny Squibb and South African international Liné Malan saw the Perth Thundersticks prevail 2-1 win over NSW Pride. The result saw the Thundersticks equal their third placed finish from last season while condemning the defending champions to fourth.
A Kaitlin Nobbs penalty stroke with four minutes remaining gave the Pride the chance to set up a dramatic finish, however Thundersticks goalkeeper Elizabeth Duguid capped off a stellar season denying Greta Hayes’ conversion opportunity to seal the win.
Women’s Grand Final
Brisbane Blaze 4 (Wilkinson 37’, D.Dolkens 56’, S.Fitzpatrick 59’/59’)
Canberra Chill 1 (Mullan 19’)
Umpires: Aleisha Neumann and Cassidy Gallagher
Brisbane Blaze Women’s team: 1.Savannah Fitzpatrick, 2.Rosie Malone, 3.Kendra Fitzpatrick, 5.Morgan Gallagher (c), 8.Dayle Dolkens, 9.Casey Dolkens, 10.Madison Fitzpatrick, 11.Morgan Mathison, 13.Rebecca Greiner, 14.Stephanie Kershaw, 17.Camryn Mathison, 21.Emily Kingston (gk), 22.Britt Wilkinson, 23.Ruby Harris, 25.Kyra Livermore, 30.Georgina West
Unused substitute: 24.Ivy Matthews (gk)
Canberra Chill Women’s team: 1.Mikalya Evans, 2.Katie Mullan, 5.Claudia Johnston, 6.Roisin Upton, 7.Naomi Evans, 8.Sarah Hawkshaw, 9.Samantha Economos, 11.Tamsin Bunt, 13.Edwina Bone, 17.Kaitlin Cotter, 18.Olivia Martin, 21.Mikaela Patterson, 23.Kalindi Commerford (c), 25.Lauren Yee, 28.Catriona Bailey-Price, 32.Rene Hunter (gk)
Women’s 3v4 Play-Off
NSW Pride 1 (Nobbs 56’)
Perth Thundersticks 2 (Squibb 24’, Malan 49’)
Umpires: Emily Carroll and Nicola Brown
NSW Pride Women’s team: 1.Alice Arnott, 3.Jocelyn Bartram (gk), 7.Laura Reid, 8.Greta Hayes, 10.Chelsea Holmes, 11.Estelle Hughes, 15.Hannah Kable, 17.Miri Maroney, 20.Kaitlin Nobbs, 24.Maddison Smith, 25.Emma Spinks, 27.Kendelle Tait, 29.Meike van Haeringen, 30.Mariah Williams (c), 31.Abby Wilson
Unused substitute: 12.Grace Jeffrey (gk)
Perth Thundersticks Women’s team: 1.Pippa Morgan, 3.Neasa Flynn, 4.Elyssa Melville, 6.Sarah Byrnes, 7.Penny Squibb, 8.Georgia Wilson, 9.Shanea Tonkin, 10.Jesse Reid, 11.Rachel Frusher (c), 12.Liné Malan, 13.Lexie Pickering, 14.Elizabeth Duguid (gk), 17.Annie Gibbs, 18.Renee Rockliff, 19.Georgina Dowd, 20.Karri Somerville
Unused substitute: 23.Lou-Ellen Edwards (gk)