Australian Hockey League Preview 2014
Sandgropers, crow eaters, gum suckers, top enders, banana benders, apple eaters, cockroaches & round-about abouters have all taken to sunny Brisbane to fight it out in this years Australian Hockey League. With a different team taking out the tournament in the past 4 years it is set to be a competitive tournament showcasing the best players Australia has to offer both senior and up and coming.
For people interested in knowing more about their team or their opposition here’s a quick summary. (Alphabetically listed)
Australian Capital Territory:
Despite being small in size ACT often packs a punch and has produced quality international players including the likes of past Hockeyroos Katrina Powell and Peta Gallagher. ACT’s best performance recently came in 2004 where they came second to the WA Diamonds. Although they haven’t won the competition in the past 10 years they have been a solid side making the top 4 on a regular basis, and being in contention to take the title. ACT has a talented list including Hockeyroo Edwina Bone who endeavours to break the game open with her fitness and strength on the ball. She will be flanked by previous international young player of the year Anna Flanagan returning from Holland adding an extra element to ACT’s penalty corner attack. Other athletes including Naomi Evans & Jenna Cartwright will be a positive influence through ACT’s midfield/strike line. International imports include talented defender Samantha Charlton from the New Zealand Blacksticks and Kate Gillis, captain of the Canadian hockey team.
New South Wales:
With 2 grand final appearances in the last 3 years without taking out the much coveted AHL trophy, NSW will be looking to make amends this time round. Despite being a youthful team, they certainly have the talent to take out the title if they perform to their potential and on a consistent basis. With the return of Casey Eastham vice captain of the Hockeyroos from Holland, NSW will enjoy having the stability and experience through the midfield. Teams will have to defend well against NSW with talented and experienced forwards Emily Smith, Hollie Webster alongside young gun Mariah Williams featuring in their line up. Developing defender Georgie Morgan will head up the defence for NSW supported by Jocelyn Bartram in the goals.
A lack of athlete numbers has been a long standing problem for the Northern Territory making it difficult to form a side which is in contention for a finals berth. Despite this setback NT has formed a comprehensive side including imports from WA and QLD. Unfortunately due to injury at the recent Commonwealth Games they will not have their star local player Brooke Peris to assist in their AHL endeavours. Although NT has faced the logistical issue of not training together for a long period of time, they have always caused upsets due to their persistent and dogged nature in performance. With a talented ninja in the net AKA Lizzy Duguid, NT will be tough to score against.
Last years winners and regular finals contenders QLD are one of the hot favourites to take out this years honours. With a list of household names in the Hockeyroos side and many talented juniors, they certainly have the lineup for back to back premierships. Led by Hockeyroos captain and experienced AHL campaigner Madonna Blyth, QLD’s midfield will be one of their strengths despite missing other stalwart of the team Teneal Attard under going an extensive rehabilitation program. QLD have the added advantage of having the top quality drag flick services of Jodie Kenny who has recently been in career best form. QLD have a well balanced side of experience and youth with many of their junior players being listed in the 2014 national junior squad. Forward Murphy Allendorf will be one to watch if she finds herself with some space in the attacking circle.
South Australia must have done something wrong, as they have been cursed by injury in lead up to this years AHL. Key forward Georgie “backstick” Parker has been sidelined with a long standing knee issue, while Hockeyroos midfielder Jane Claxton did her best to put herself out of the tournament with a late ankle injury. South Australia had initially done well in their recruiting, lining up Stacey Michelson and Anita Punt from the Blacksticks to play for them this year, but the curse appeared to be trans tasman and have since been ruled out. Fortunately for South Australia they do have depth in the team and will look to senior players Karri McMahon (AHL player of the tournament, 2013) and Holly Evans to instigate attack and ensure a strong defensive structure. Gabi Nance & Miki Spanno will be looking to impress as junior players and may be the additional x-factor’s SA need to get over the line. They will be supported by the lone Blackstick that managed to make it to Brisbane, Petrea Webster, who played at this years Commonwealth Games and World Cup.
The last 4 years hasn’t been a great period of time for the Van Demons battling it out with NT for 7/8th position. But like NT, Tasmania are battlers and have held their own against many of the top four teams with a consistent and determined defence. With the addition of Hockeyroo midfielder Amelia Spence returning from a long term ankle injury, this may just be what Tasmania needs to get them further up the ladder adding some potency to their attack. With four imports (Claire Williams, Renee Taylor, Madeline James, Hannah Reid) hailing from Queensland, Brisbane may just be Tasmania’s second home and should be getting quite some support from the local crowd.
They tasted success in 2012 and would love to repeat that effort. This may a big ask with key midfielder and goal scorer Claire Messent out with a hamstring injury. Experienced viper campaigners Stacia Joseph, Kary Chau and Danni Schubach will look to fill this void, while current Hockeyroo Georgia Nanscawen will be important in creating and scoring goals. Defensively junior national squad player Sam Snow will need to bring her physicality to the table to assist world class goal keeper Rachael Lynch in the net. Although Victoria may not be favourites to win the tournament they relish the underdog title, and proved they can perform against top quality teams comprehesively rolling NSW on the 2012 AHL grand final.
Will be looking to amend their finals loss which went to one on ones v QLD last year. They will be missing experienced campaigners Kobie McGurk and Shelly Liddlelow from last years campaign, however still have a solid lineup across all areas of the field. Jayde Taylor has returned from Holland adding stability to the Diamonds defence which has been strengthened by the return of Hockeyroos goal keeper Ashlee Wells and player of the final 2013 Penny Squibb. WA have many potential future stars throughout the lines however will require a strong AHL performance to put their hands up for further selection in the national program something which WA has struggled with in the past. WA have built a reputation of making finals and consistent performances across the years with 2002 being the last time they weren’t in the top 4.
Not all of the above teams will play against each other with the teams being split into two pools, with the top two teams playing in the final rounds. Those who tune into the games will be privy to seeing the game being played over 4 x 15 minutes quarters, recently introduced by the FIH for broadcasting and marketing purposes.
Below are the following details if you and the family wish to come down and fly the flag for your home state. Alternatively if you can’t make the time to get away from your job you can watch online (while pretending to work). AHL finals will be streamed live – for more details on how to log on head to http://www.hockey.org.au/Events/Australian-Hockey-League/Womens-Fixtures-Teams
Adult – $5.00
Adult weekly pass – $25.00
17 and under – Free
QLD State Hockey Centre
400/420 Lytton Rd
Colmslie QLD 4170
Canberra Labor Club Strikers
SA Southern Suns
Tassie Van Demons
May the best team win!