The Queensland Scorchers won the 2005 womens AHL after defeating the SmokeFree WA Diamonds 3-1 in the final in Canberra.
After seven years of near misses, the Scorchers were jubilant in their victory, having last won the title in 1997. Many of the team members were a part of that winning team, making the victory even more deserved after much hard work over the past years. The win denied the Diamonds a second consecutive victory after they took out the title last year.
“It’s been a long time coming, and finally we have made it,” Scorchers coach Margaret Dilger said.
“We were quietly confident, having split the points in the early rounds. The driving force was seven years of not being champions, and that meant we played well as a team, rather than as individuals.”
The Scorchers opened the game decisively with midfielder Wendy Alcorn putting her team on the scoreboard in the sixth minute. Queensland continued with pace and energy, dominating the match and maintaining pressure on the Diamonds defence, resulting in a second goal to Nikki Hudson in the 12th minute.
The Diamonds kept pace with the Scorchers, but were forced into making errors as they rushed passes and lost possession to the opposition.
The match continued in a similar style in the second half, with both teams making raids on the opposition’s goal. Scorchers defenders Angie Skirving and Teneal Attard were consistent in clearing the ball out to their wings, while at the other end Diamonds goalkeeper Kate Hubble worked hard to keep the ball from hitting the backboards.
However with the maintained pressure, Scorcher Amy Korner used her skill and pace to get the ball past the Diamonds defence and put her team ahead by three goals. With eight minutes on the clock, the Diamonds were able to put a point on the scoreboard with a penalty corner goal from Emily Halliday, however it was not enough to make a difference and Queensland held on to take the victory.
In other games of the day, the NSW Arrows dominated the Adelaide Suns to finish in third place, one spot higher than last year. The tempo was lifted in this match as both teams came out firing as possession passed back and forward in the first half, however neither side was able to find the back of the net to score.
In the second half, the Arrows stepped up the pace to show winning form as Julie Gosper slotted away a goal minutes after the break. The goals started to flow for the Arrows as the Suns began to look weary, resulting in a comprehensive victory for the NSW side.
NSW Coach Tracey Belbin commended her players for their teamwork and unity.
“It was a good outcome and I’m pleased that we were able to capitalise on the opportunities in the second half to score some good goals,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Canberra Labor Club Strikers delighted the home crowd, finishing in fifth spot after a tight contest with the Azuma Vipers that culminated in a penalty stroke shoot out.
The Strikers came out blazing to put the first mark on the scoreboard, but the Vipers would always reply back to equal, never letting their opponents break away. With a 1-1 score at half time, Laura Desmet put the Strikers in the lead early in the second half, after which both teams worked hard to dominate. The Vipers took control of the final 10 minutes, with Ngaire Smith scoring her second penalty corner to level the scores 2-2 with only three minutes showing on the clock.
The scores remained locked after two periods of extra time, and the ACT side held on to win the penalty stroke competition.
In the other match of the day, the Territory Pearls played with determination to finish in seventh place after defeating the Wrest Point Van Demons by one goal.
Player of the League: Rachel Imison, Azuma Vipers (VIC)
Top Goal Scorer: Suzie Faulkner, Queensland Scorchers (9 goals)
Player of the Final: Madonna Blyth, Queensland Scorchers
Play the Whistle Award: Adelaide Suns
2004 Official of the Year: Minka Woolley, TAS
The 2005 National Senior and Development Squads, as well as the team which will participate in the North American tour in June, will be named later this week.
Queensland Scorchers 3 defeated SmokeFree WA Diamonds 1
Goals: Scorchers - Wendy Alcorn FG 6m, Nikki Hudson FG 12m, Amy Korner FG 54m; Diamonds - Emily Halliday PC 62m
3rd Place Playoff
NSW Arrows 4 defeated Adelaide Suns 0
Goals: Arrows - Julie Gosper FG 37m, Piki Hamahona FG 42m PC 45m, Belinda Brooks PC 64m
5th Place Playoff
Canberra Labor Club Strikers 2 defeated Azuma Vipers 2 (Strikers won after penalty strokes)
Goals: Strikers -Toni Stewart FG 21m, Laura Desmet FG 47m; Vipers - Ngaire Smith PC 31m PC 67m
7th Place Playoff
Territory Pearls 1 defeated Wrest Point Van Demons 0
Goals: Pearls - Emma Paterson FG 6m
1. Queensland Scorchers
2. SmokeFree WA Diamonds
3. NSW Arrows
4. Adelaide Suns
5. Canberra Labor Club Strikers
6. Azuma Vipers
7. Territory Pearls
8. Wrest Point Van Demons
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