2012 Australian Hockey League Champions
After nine long years the Victorian Vipers have been crowned Australian Hockey League Champions. The team won Gold at the 2001 AHL but have not even made the finals since then. I have been a part of the group for eight years and each year it is so disappointing to train together for so long and not get results.
This year we had a fantastic group of girls with a broad range of skills and experience. Katie Allen, Greg Drake and Victor Romagosa lead the team and did a really great job. We had a slow start to the tournament with two draws but played consistently right through. There were some close calls towards the end of the round games but we survived and made the top four for finals. We played WA in our semi which was a rematch of the previous days round game. Everyone was so determined to win which we did with a strong performance.
The grand final was against our long-time rivals NSW. We had drawn with them in the round game 0-0 so we knew it was going to be a real battle. Finals are anyones game so we also knew we were in with a good shot. Our confidence had been building and building and we had a full team of 18 available. Pretty impressive after our tough two-week tournament. I was fortunate enough to be picked to play and was feeling really good.
We won!!! Unlike the stressful games leading up to the final, we actually won convincingly. 5-1. We had saved our best game till last. It was an amazing feeling, after so many years, and to do it with some of my best friends was just incredible. We were all so proud of such a successful tournament and flew home to Melbourne on top of the world.
Victoria 5 def New South Wales 1 (half time 4-1)
VIC: Own goal (7m), Claire Messent (26m FG), Stephanie Riordan (30m FG), Sam Ellis (35m PC), Danielle Schubach (37m FG)
NSW: Georgina Morgan (4m PC)
The Victoria Vipers are the 2012 AHL Champions after defeating the NSW Arrows 5-1 in the Gold Medal match at Perth Hockey Stadium today. NSW flew out of the blocks when Georgina Morgan slotted home nicely from a Penalty Corner, after only 4 minutes played, but then it was all Victoria, as they scored the 5 goals in 30 minutes to overrun the Arrows in a dominant display of Grand Final hockey. VIC got on the board at the 7 minute mark when NSW keeper Toni Cronk accidentally deflected in an own goal, to tie up the scores. From then on the Vipers could seemingly do no wrong, with Messent playing some exceptional hockey in midfield and then getting into good positions inside the circle. Messent then gave the VIC girls the lead when she slotted home nicely with 8 minutes to run in the first half. The Vipers were feeling it was going to be their day when Stephanie Riordan gave them a 3-1 lead, and then shortly after Sam Ellis tapped home from a PC after the half time buzzer had sounded.
For NSW to come back from a 4-1 half time score line would have been a huge effort, but definitely not impossible, anything can happen in sport, however when VIC scored their 5th goal within 2 minutes of the restart through Danielle Schubach, the Vics knew that this was going to be their year. No further goals were added for the remainder of the match, as Victoria’s defence was resolute and saw off any NSW attacks. As the clock was winding down to full time, the VIC girls seemed to be soaking up every moment in what would be a memorable day for Victorian Hockey. Victoria’s last AHL title was way back in 2003 and they haven’t been in the Gold Medal match since, so the girls and support staff will no doubt celebrate this year’s title well into the night and deservedly so. Claire Messent was awarded this year’s trophy for best player in the Grand Final.
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory
Player of the Tournament: Anna Flanagan (ACT Strikers)
Leading Goal Scorer of the Tournament: Reggie Ashton (QLD Scorchers)
Player of the Grand Final: Claire Messent (Vic Vipers)