The NSW Arrows have pulled off an upset against the reigning AHL women's champions to defeat the SmokeFree WA Diamonds in the final match of day one at the AHL.
Canberra Strikers – Wrest Point Tassie Van Demons 3-1
Victorian Vipers – NT Pearls 5-3
NSW Arrows –
The OAMPS Queensland Scorchers have also put their hand up to be the team to beat at the AHL tournament while the Victorian Vipers and Canberra Strikers recorded close victories over the NT Pearls and Wrest Point Tassie Van Demons respectively.
The first game of the Women's AHL was a contentious affair ending in a decisive win for the ACT over the Wrest Point Tassie Van Demons. A much discussed penalty stroke in the 60th minute secured the ACT a 3-1 win.
A perfect day for watching hockey seemed a few degrees too warm for the Tassie girls. ACT looked the stronger side in the first half with the midfield tirelessly building play. Captain Nicole Arrold repeatedly brought the ball through congested play and only strong defense by the Tassie backs held off the inevitable. In the 14th minute Charlotte Harrison made a solo run from the 25 and converted a reverse stick tomahawk.
Tassie came out fighting in the second half with strikers Abbey Douglas and Lucy Ockenden pressing hard. They had three missed opportunities with three quick short corners. Strong attack by Ockenden paid off when her run down the right side was converted by Jessica Blake.
Soon after a high trap in the Tasmanian back half was considered dangerous and after much discussion between the umpires and players a stroke is converted by Sarah Young for the Strikers.
The OAMPS Queensland Scorchers then came out with all guns blazing in their first game against the Southern Suns with a 5-0 win.
It was not all one way traffic however. Strikers Amy Swann, Sarah Harrison and
The Suns gave their utmost the whole game with Kayla Sharland and Bronte Pickett particularly strong in defense. After 25 minutes the result was still in the balance until a short corner was converted with a magnificent drag flick by Angie Lambert.
The second half saw a multitude of short corners go the way of the Scorchers. The Suns goalkeeper ensured the conversion rate was lower than it might have been otherwise, showing superb reflexes as she was peppered with goals.
The third short in the second half saw
The next short was set up by Wendie Beattie who took the ball through a crowd of South Australian players. The resultant second drag flick by Lambert was unstoppable and the Scorchers 4-0 lead was soon followed by yet another short corner deflected after a scramble by Beattie.
The score line did not reflect the determination and courage of the South Australian team who were outplayed but displayed bursts of great speed and tenacity.
The Victorian Vipers made hard work for themselves against the NT Pearls in the third match of day one with many wasted short corners during their round one match.
The Pearls looked out of sorts in the first half of the match, with the Vipers unable to make the most of their opportunities with their short corner attempts letting them down. The double swing of two players in the short corner battery served to confuse the NT players running out but did not help the Victorians finish. Claire Messant got the Victorians on the board with a goal in the sixth minute after some fast free flowing team work.
NT then scored an incredible goal against the flow of play when Mayumi Ono crossed to Caroline Pericles who seemed to shoot the ball from behind her, flummoxing the goalie.
The Victorian build up from the midfield was their strong point however many of the resultant short corners were wasted. Claire Messent was very strong on the left and gave some great passes to Danielle Schubach and Stephanie Riordan who both missed their chances. Sarah O'Connor got a clean shot away from a short corner, making the score 2-1 at half time.
The Vipers stepped it up another gear in the second half. A quick field goal by Renee Trost set the team into action and a few minutes later the fourth Victorian goal was scored by Leah Merrrett off a short corner variation.
The Pearls did not lay down easily and Stephanie Andrews and Heather Langham kept the ball flowing through to some plucky strikers. Two of these passes resulted in fantastic solo field goals against the flow of play by Samantha Gale and
The crowd loved the tenacity of the Pearls as underdogs and the Victorians deserved their win despite many short corners being squandered.
In the final match of the day the NSW Arrows took their chances and played defiantly in a very close match to record the first upset of the AHL tournament by defeating the SmokeFree WA Diamonds in
A large crowd took the opportunity to see the home team play its first match in perfect conditions at the Perth Hockey Stadium. The teams seemed to be slowly testing the water and the game was scoreless at half time.
Both sides looked strong coming down the right side. Fiona Boyce and Lisa Pamenter streamed down their right but found no striker could convert for the Diamonds. Young pair Casey Eastham and Kate Hollywood also looked strong down their right but were also unable to put a score on the board.
Basic errors by WA early in the second half took their toll. In the first penalty corner the ball rebounded off Kate Hubble and Kate Hollywood picked up the crumbs and scored the only goal of the match. The NSW midfield had great space and their passing was seamless. Megan Rivers and Kellie-Lee James worked tirelessly.
WA continued to press looking for an equalizing goal but NSW held firm with great deep defense thwarting every penetration by the WA strikers.
Diamonds captains Emily Halliday and Kim Walker lifted the tempo in an attempt to inspire the WA team, having a series of shots on goal to no avail.
A Lisa Pamenter solo run looked a certainty however NSW keeper Toni Cronk stormed out bravely and the ball deflected off her pads. Hope Munro had a comparatively quiet game and missed a searing shot with two minutes to go.
WA did not look like the team that won the grand final last year however NSW deserved the win and will be in contention if they keep playing at this level.
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