An epic penalty shootout win by HC Melbourne Women has been somewhat overshadowed by a record JDH Hockey One League score from a dominant NSW Pride who steamrolled the visiting men’s side 11-2 in front of nearly 1,500 fans at Sydney Olympic Park.
The women’s contest was a real nailbiter as both sides traded opportunities in an open-ended affair played in stifling hot conditions.
Ash Utri fired several warning shots in the opening term for HC Melbourne, but debutant Pride goalkeeper Grace Jeffrey made a strong start to deputising for Hockeyroo shot stopper Jocelyn Bartram.
NSW Pride midfielder Greta Hayes was dangerous at the other end, first forcing HC Melbourne keeper Rachael Lynch into a smart save before creating the chance that led to national teammate Abigail Wilson crashing a shot against the upright.
The home side took the advantage after the main break earning four consecutive set piece chances, with a well-rehearsed routine from Abby Wilson again smashing against the right-hand post.
The let off inspired HC Melbourne with the visitors taking the lead when Player of the Match Joanne Peeters assisted Olivia Downes to the opener after 43 minutes.
With time ticking away, NSW Pride found a late equaliser through Alice Arnott, but the experience of Lynch in the HC Melbourne goal denied her conversion opportunity to send the game to a penalty shootout.
Hayes and Mariah Williams scored with the home side’s first two chances, with the visitors responding through Laura Barden and Amy Lawton.
It would prove not to be Wilson’s day as she was denied by Lynch, whilst Utri similarly could find no way beyond an inspired Jeffrey.
Arnott made amends for her earlier miss, only to see it cancelled out by Krissy Bates for the visitors, so when Laura Reid thrashed a wild tomahawk attempt over the bar it set the scene for Peeters to claim an important bonus point.
The Belgium-national was forced to use every one of the allocated eight seconds but found a way to send a tomahawk beyond Jeffrey as the whistle sounded to snatch a 4-3 shootout victory for HC Melbourne.
“It was just like if we score, we win it, if I don’t, we get to keep going, so it was kind of the best shootout to take in that moment,” Peeters said of her mindset before taking the final penalty.
“When I dragged it a bit too far my heart dropped into my shoes, but you’ve got to go the full eight seconds and, in the end, it was a bit of luck to take it over the line, so I’m really happy.”
Already the pre-tournament favourites to claim a three-peat, NSW Pride were at their ruthless attacking best in setting a new benchmark scoreline in thumping HC Melbourne 11-2.
Four goals from Blake Govers saw the franchise eclipse the Brisbane Blaze men and HC Melbourne women’s previous ten goal efforts in an awesome display.
HC Melbourne had generated the first clutch scoring opportunity of the match, but Nathan Ephraums’ pass to Josh Simmonds at the far post saw the overlapping defender unable to get enough purchase on the ball to turn it in.
The warning shot thrust the hosts into action with Govers feeding Flynn Ogilvie for the simplest of tap ins, before the Player of the Match toyed with HC Melbourne keeper Johan Durst to convert and make it 2-0 in the fourth minute.
Barely a minute later, Ogilvie saved a certain goal at the other end, with Govers opening his account after 12 minutes by crashing home a loose ball in the circle and duly converting to stretch the score to 4-0 at quarter time.
HC Melbourne reverted to their successful ploy of cross field aerials to positive affect in the second term, earning back-to-back set piece opportunities without reward.
Fortune seemed to be turning when Ephraums had a cross turned in inadvertently by NSW Pride defender Nathanael Stewart and the man dubbed by Kookaburras keeper Andrew Charter as the best penalty taker in Australia lived up to his billing to bridge the deficit back to 4-2.
But NSW Pride kicked into a whole other gear, scoring four goals in six minutes to put the result to bed.
Govers flicked home his third with a penalty corner flick, then stepped up to make it four from the penalty spot, while teammates Tim Brand and Jack Hayes also got in on the act.
Forced to chase the game, HC Melbourne withdrew Durst in favour of an extra field player and the clever thinking Nathan Czinner helped Willott to score, before Daine Richards brought up the record late on.
“It was a hot start where we ran them into the ground early with our full press and it showed at the end of the game when we put on a few goals late,” Ogilvie said.
“It’s really fun playing with these guys and it makes my job pretty easy in the middle of the field, it’s just trap and pass well, defend well and they’ll go ahead and score goals, and they do that really well.”
Today’s two results saw HC Melbourne Women and NSW Pride Men go to the top of the ladder at the end of three rounds.
Every match of the JDH Hockey One League 2023 Season is LIVE and free on 7plus.
Match report courtesy of Adam Clifford.
Match Details – Women’s Match
NSW Pride 1 (Arnott 57’)
HC Melbourne 1 (Downes 43’)
HC Melbourne won shootout 4-3
Sunday 22 October 2023
Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre
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, 24.Maddison Smith, 25.Emma Spinks, 27.Kendelle Tait, 30.Mariah Williams (c), 31.Abby Wilson, 32.Grace Young
HC Melbourne Women’s team: 2.Aisling Utri, 3.Nicola Hammond, 4.Amy Lawton, 5.Krissy Bates, 6.Josie Lawton, 7.Ciara Utri, 9.Carly James, 10.Rosario Villagra, 11.Joanne Peeters, 13.Megan Alakus, 14.Laura Barden, 15.Olivia Downes, 23.Samantha Snow, 25.Hannah Gravenall (c), 27.Rachael Lynch (gk)
Match Details – Men’s Match
NSW Pride 11 (Ogilvie 4’/4’, Govers 12’/12’/39’/42’, Brand 42’, Hayes 45+’, Willott 55’/55’, Richards 55’)
HC Melbourne 2 (Ephraums 38’/38’)
Sunday 22 October 2023
Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre
NSW Pride Men’s team: 1.Lachlan Sharp, 2.Tom Craig, 5.Ash Thomas (gk), 7.Daine Richards, 8.Nathanael Stewart, 9.Nathan Czinner, 13.Blake Govers, 14.Dylan Martin, 15.Miles Davis, 19.Jack Hayes (c), 20.Ky Willott, 22.Flynn Ogilvie, 28.Sam Gray, 29.Tim Brand, 32.Callum Mackay
HC Melbourne Men’s team: 1.Craig Marais, 4.Liam Henderson, 5.Douglas Buckley, 6.Damon Steffens (c), 7.Nathan Ephraums, 8.Lachlan Steinfort, 10.Brad Marais, 11.Cooper Burns, 12.Connar Otterbach, 14.James Knee, 15.Josh Simmonds, 18.Johan Durst (gk), 19.Jordan Rees, 20.Nye Roberts, 22.Ben White