Canberra Chill and NSW Pride turn it on in front of record crowd

A record JDH Hockey One League crowd has witnessed Canberra Chill Women and NSW Pride Men prevail in a high octane double header at the National Hockey Centre.

In front of a record attendance of 2,282, the women’s match was a case of the Evans show as sisters Mikayla and Naomi Evans both struck twice to help Canberra Chill to a precious 5-2 win over the defending champions.

Then in the men’s match, after no goals in the opening 30 minutes, the game exploded in the second half as the league leading NSW Pride held off an impressive Canberra Chill 3-2.

The Chill’s win in the women’s competition sends them, albeit temporarily, to the top of the women’s standings, while NSW Pride Men make it three from three as they chase a Hockey One League three-peat.

The first quarter of the women’s match was a goal fest, the home side striking first inside five minutes. A searching overhead from defence ended with Mikayla Evans who fed the ball into an unmarked Lauren Yee and she made not mistake beating Pride goalkeeper Grace Jeffrey.

Lee’s ensuing conversion was denied by Jeffrey to keep it at 1-0 and then less than a minute later Makayla Jones gave NSW Pride the rapid reply.

Alice Arnott linked up with Grace Stewart who had time to square the ball up for Jones and she did the rest. A successful conversion had the Pride ahead but the Chill were soon back on level terms.

Kaitlin Cotter swatted a speculative drive through a sea of bodies in the circle, the ball popping out to the ever alert Mikayla Evans who knocked the ball in. Evans was unsuccessful with her conversion attempt to leave the scores tied 2-2 after a quarter of play.

In the 18th minute the Chill went ahead again when a marauding run into the circle from Sarah Hawkshaw saw her pull the trigger, the Irish international’s shot proving too hot to handle for Jeffrey as the rebound fell invitingly again to Mikayla Evans to score her second.

Jeffrey again came to NSW Pride’s rescue as she denied Evans’ conversion to keep the visitors well and truly in it.

With neither side able to strike despite several opportunities at both ends, in the shadows of three quarter time Naomi Evans ultimately decided the contest.

The former Hockeyroo latched onto a well struck searching ball from the left to score from close range. She followed it up with a well executed conversion to give the home side a three goal buffer and maximum points.

“First of all, we owe this win to the crowd here…it’s amazing to see so many people supporting the Chill,” said Hawkshaw who named Player of the Match.

“We’ve done a lot of work with our attacking when we’re further up the pitch and our presses…and it came off today giving us more room on the ball.”

“Today I was just trying to get some shots on target and the girls were there to put them away. Having the Evans girls around…they’ll swoop all day.”

In the early stages of the men’s match, the Chill were holding their own against the league measuring stick, earning two penalty corners but unable to capitalise.

Four minutes into the second quarter the Pride manufactured something out of nothing when Sam Gray spotted the run of Tim Brand but the Kookaburras forward sent his diving effort wide of the target.

Miles Davis also flashed a shot narrowly wide in some nervy moments for the Chill, before Pride goalkeeper and Player of the Match Ash Thomas was forced to keep out two thunderous Rupinder Pal Singh drag flicks.

The Pride started to gain some ascendancy in the third quarter and from their fifth penalty corner of the quarter they broke through as Thomas Miotto’s drag flick snuck inside Max Robson’s right hand post.

The Chill went on the front foot in response and won another penalty corner, however a crucial mistake from Jack Staines with his injection of the penalty corner proved costly as the Pride swopped with the swiftest of counter attacks.

Sam Mudford launched a pass from the right to a charging Tom Craig and the Kookaburra smashed a tomahawk into the backboard from the angle. Robson prevented Craig from giving the Pride a three goal lead as he saved the conversion to keep it at 2-0 after 49 minutes.

When Dylan Martin weaved his way into the circle resulting in Miles Davis scooping a shot past Robson to make it 3-0 in the 54th minute, it appeared the Pride would continue on their merry way.

However, urged on by a boisterous home crowd, the Chill still had a pulse when Ben Staines scored and converted the conversion opportunity after a fine assist from Connor Tuddenham to make it 3-2.

There was still time for late drama when the Chill had one last penalty corner. Rupinder Pal Singh stepped up, however Thomas pulled off a clutch save with his right foot from the Indian’s drag flick which was headed for the bottom corner.

“That was a really tough game. Ash (Thomas) was unreal…he kept us in it. It has been a topsy turvy week with a lot of boys out but we dug deep and got the result,” said veteran Pride defender Tristan White.

“I’m stoked to have been able to come and play. What the NSW Pride guys have been building over time, they’re going from strength to strength and we managed to get a result against a Chill team at home who were really strong today.”

“I was just trying to put up a bit of a wall. It was great to make some good saves and some of the boys put in some huge defensive efforts as well and we did just enough at the other end, so it feels great,” said Thomas.

“I had a big smile on my face going into the final penalty corner. That’s what I love and live for…the game on the line. Rupinder is a class player. I was fortunate to get some good looks at him early in the game, so it got my confidence up.”

Every match of the JDH Hockey One League 2023 Season is LIVE and free on 7plus.

Match Details – Women’s Match
Canberra Chill 5 (Yee 5’, M.Evans 9’/18’, N.Evans 45’/45’)
NSW Pride 2 (Jones 5’/6’)
Saturday 28 October 2023
National Hockey Centre

Canberra Chill Women’s team: 1.Mikayla Evans, 2.Katie Mullan, 6.Roisin Upton, 7.Naomi Evans, 8.Sarah Hawkshaw, 11.Tamsin Bunt, 13.Edwina Bone, 16.Georgie Smithers, 17.Kaitlin Cotter, 18.Olivia Martin, 21.Mikaela Patterson, 23.Kalindi Commerford (c), 24.Sarah White, 25.Lauren Yee, 31.Sarah Steinhardt (gk)

NSW Pride Women’s team: 1.Alice Arnott, 7.Laura Reid, 8.Greta Hayes, 10.Chelsea Holmes, 12.Grace Jeffrey (gk), 13.Sarah Johnston, 14.Makayla Jones, 15.Hannah Kable, 16.Alana Kavanagh, 20.Kaitlin Nobbs, 24.Maddison Smith (c), 26.Grace Stewart, 27.Kendelle Tait, 31.Abby Wilson, 32.Grace Young


Match Details – Men’s Match
Canberra Chill 2 (B.Staines 56’/56’)
NSW Pride 3 (Miotto 45’, Craig 49’, Davis 54’)
Saturday 28 October 2023
National Hockey Centre

Canberra Chill Men’s team: 2.Ben Staines, 4.Jaume Torras, 6.Connor Tuddenham, 8.Sean Baker, 9.Jamie Hawke, 10.Owen Chivers, 11.Garry Backhus, 12.Jake Staines, 14.Koby Johnstone, 15.Hayden Dillon (c), 17.Aiden Dooley, 22.Jay Macdonald, 24.Davis Atkin, 27.Max Robson (gk), 33.Rupinder Pal Singh

NSW Pride Men’s team: 2.Tom Craig (c), 5.Ash Thomas (gk), 7.Daine Richards, 8.Nathanael Stewart, 14.Dylan Martin, 15.Miles Davis, 16.Josh Gregory, 23.Ryan Woolnough, 25.Tristan White, 28.Sam Gray, 29.Tim Brand, 32.Callum Mackay, 33.Sam Mudford, 34.Thomas Miotto, 35.Rory Walker