A last minute goal against the Canberra Strikers tonight has given the SmokeFree WA Diamonds the edge leading into the AHL Semi Finals, placing them on top of the AHL ladder.
Round 7 AHL results
NSW Arrows – NT Pearls 3-1
Victorian Vipers – Southern Suns 2-1 (extra time)
Although the Diamonds, OAMPS Queensland Scorchers and the NSW Arrows all finished on the same amount of points, the Diamonds and Scorchers goal difference was higher than the Arrows (Diamonds & Scorchers 17 NSW 13). Thankfully for the Diamonds the fact they defeated the Scorchers during their Round 5 match means they are ranked higher, giving them top spot on the AHL ladder after the final round.
In game one of Round 7 NSW looked hard to beat from the opening whistle during their match against the NT Pearls. However a second half fade out squandered their chance to get much needed points for their quest to be top of the ladder.
The Arrows have made few mistakes this tournament and made the most of every opportunity in the first half, scoring three goals in five minutes.
The first was in the 11th minute when a penalty flick was sent to the waiting stick of Emily Hurtz. The second came a few minutes later when Casey Eastham received a cross from the left and dragged the ball back to allow time to swing and slam the ball home.
The third and final score for the first half was set up with a great run along the back line by Rebecca Sanders who passed to the spot where Megan Rivers was waiting to convert.
The Arrows were relatively free down the right and Kate Hollywood and Casey Eastham made the most of it. The Pearls had brief forays into their half but were quickly repelled by a dogged NSW defense.
NT had more of the ball in the second half, with a series of penalties increasing their confidence. A power hit off a penalty by Samantha Gale gave NT a much deserved goal. The game was quite even for the remainder of the match with both midfields causing several turnovers.
The OAMPS Queensland Scorchers looked as though they had maintained top spot on the AHL ladder after defeating the Wrest Point Tassie Van Demons in game two of Round 7.
With considerably more goal attempts than the Van Demons, the Scorchers eventually made their way onto the scoreboard in the 14th minute thanks to Hockeyroo Nikki Hudson.
The second half almost seemed as though it would be goalless, until Rebecca Reuter hit the ball at a very well guarded goals that, unfortunately for the Van Demons, deflected off the foot of the goalie.
Eloise Duay of the Van Demons was one of their better performers, while Abby Douglas also played a major part in
Suzie Faulkner was efficient in the middle for the Scorchers, forcing the ball into the Scorchers circle on several occasions.
The Scorchers will be disappointed not to have scored more during this game, which eventually cost them top spot on the AHL ladder.
The Victorian Vipers ended the Southern Suns run of victories in the third match of Round 7 at the AHL.
Although the Suns entered the match with good form, it was the Vipers who started the better of the two teams with Stephanie Riordan recording the first goal of the match.
After controlling the ball through the midfield, the Vipers continued to do the majority of the attacking in the first half.
Suns midfielder Kayla Sharland played well again, starting many of their attacking runs up the field in the second half. An amazing equalizer was scored for the Suns when Tobi Cibich hit a high ball from the right into the left corner of the net.
With an even scoreboard and only five minutes left, the game became very intense with both teams looking for the winning goal. Although they both had their chances, regular time ran out and the game went into extra time.
Each team shed two players and extra time began evenly. With no result, the teams went to seven players as they searched for the golden goal. With only one minute to go before the game would be forced to a penalty stroke shoot out, Sarah O'Connor came streaming down the left and crossed to Claire Messent who hit the winning goal for the Vipers.
The final game of Round 7 saw the SmokeFree WA Diamonds claim top spot on the AHL ladder after scoring a last minute goal against the Canberra Strikers.
The Diamonds came out strongly in the first half and controlled the majority of the game.
The tempo of the match was quite even until Kia Mansell crossed the ball to Sian Smithson who netted a fantastic goal. The next goal soon followed as a ball that sailed through traffic found Smithson's stick once again and she scored her second goal.
The Strikers then started to penetrate and were unlucky as their first penalty shot hit the post. Before they could blink Hope Munro brought the ball forward and cracked a cross to Lisa Pamenter who scored the third and final goal for the half.
The second half started evenly although WA always had the ascendancy. Sian Smithson had a fantastic day on the forward line while Kobie McGurk and Shayni Buswell were consistent all match in defense.
A wonderful goal was created through Smithson when she shot across to Hope Munro who managed the deflection only by laying prostrate at the right post.
After WA scored their fifth goal from a penalty corner conversion it appeared they had run out of time to score the needed sixth goal to give them an equal goal difference figure as the OAMPS Queensland Scorchers. However when McGurk found Shelly Liddelow with only seconds to go the Diamonds achieved what seemed the impossible and scored their sixth goal of the match.
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