Tacking Point Thunder Omni defeat Wauchope Warriors 4-3 in Port Macquarie Hastings Hockey Association grand final

TACKING Point Thunder Omni claimed their fourth-straight Port Macquarie-Hastings Hockey Association women’s A-division Premier League title with a 4-3 win over Wauchope on Saturday.

In a seven-goal thriller, a plucky Warriors outfit had an opportunity in the closing stages to force a penalty shoot out, but Omni held on.

​Wauchope refused to go away despite trailing 4-1 midway through the second half and captain Michelle Smith conceded their slow start to each half made their task difficult.

“It took a while for us to warm up, we copped two goals, but the girls fought like anything and I’m proud of every single one of them,” she said.

Jess Galloway and Emily Brazel provided headaches for the Omni defence, but it was the Wauchope juniors that impressed the captain the most.

“Some of those girls out there who were playing for us were only 14 and then there was a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old,” Smith said.

“That’s their first year in senior hockey let alone playing against girls like that, one of those who is an under-18 Australian player.”

Smith wasn’t disappointed with the progress her team had made to qualify for the grand final after a few lean years.

“It wasn’t very good last year, but we got a couple of players back and we’ll come back fighting next year,” she said.

Omni jumped out of the blocks with two quick goals to Annika Toohey and Ailie McGarity inside the first six minutes to stun the Warriors.

But despite playing in their first grand final in three years, the Warriors pulled a goal back through Emily Brazel to cut the deficit to 2-1 at the break.

Omni then added a third goal through Lucy Cowman within three minutes of the start of the resumption.

When Warriors goalkeeper Sandra Slattery deflected a shot that appeared to be going wide into her own net, the signs were ominous.

Inspired by captain Michelle Smith, the Warriors added a second goal and when Jess Galloway also found the back of the net with four minutes remaining, the defending champions were nervous but they held on to enjoy victory.

It was a successful start to Omni captain Rhyannon Bowles’ time at the club after she joined at the start of the year.

“This is my first year with the girls, but it’s the fourth (grand final win) in a row which is impressive,” she said.

“It was a bit close in the end.”

Omni jumped out of the blocks with two quick goals to Annika Toohey and Ailie McGarity inside the first six minutes to stun the Warriors.

But despite playing in their first grand final in three years, the Warriors pulled a goal back through Emily Brazel to cut the deficit to 2-1 at the break.

Omni then added a third goal through Lucy Cowman within three minutes of the start of the resumption.

When Warriors goalkeeper Sandra Slattery deflected a shot that appeared to be going wide into her own net, the signs were ominous.

Inspired by captain Michelle Smith, the Warriors added a second goal and when Jess Galloway also found the back of the net with four minutes remaining, the defending champions were nervous.

Bowles admitted the warm conditions had played a role in her team’s fast start to each half before they faded.

“We planned to come out hard and we wanted to be consistent throughout the day, but the weather wasn’t in our favour, it was pretty warm out there,” she said.

Toohey’s return from Regional League duties in Taree was a welcome addition to Omni.

“We’ve struggled a lot in the comp; two of the first times we played Wauchope we didn’t have a team because of how the Taree comp is running,” Bowles said.

“But it was nice to get everyone together for the two finals games and come out with the win.”

Wauchope captain Michelle Smith conceded their slow start to each half made their task difficult.

“It took a while for us to warm up, we copped two goals, but the girls fought like anything and I’m proud of every single one of them,” she said.

Jess Galloway and Emily Brazel provided headaches for the Omni defence, but it was the Wauchope juniors that impressed the captain the most.

Focused: Jess Galloway and Sienna Toohey battle for possession. Photo: Paul Jobber

Focused: Jess Galloway and Sienna Toohey battle for possession. Photo: Paul Jobber

“Some of those girls out there who were playing for us were only 14 and then there was a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old,” Smith said.

“That’s their first year in senior hockey let alone playing against girls like that, one of those who is an under-18 Australian player.”

Smith wasn’t disappointed with the progress her team had made to qualify for the grand final after a few lean years.

“It wasn’t very good last year, but we got a couple of players back and we’ll come back fighting next year,” she said.

“Someone’s got to give the young ones a run for their money.”

Constant threat: Wauchope attacker Emily Brazel scored in her team's grand final defeat. Photo: Paul Jobber

Constant threat: Wauchope attacker Emily Brazel scored in her team's grand final defeat. Photo: Paul Jobber

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