Echuca-Moama Hockey Club's A men snared the Goulburn Valley Hockey Association premiership on Saturday.By Luke McManus
When Mooroopna equalised with two minutes to go in the Goulburn Valley Hockey Association A grade men’s grand final on Saturday, it was a ‘‘kick in the guts’’ for Echuca-Moama coach Mick Gulson.
‘‘Shattering,’’ Gulson said. ‘‘When you’re leading for that long in the game and have it taken away from you after so many scoring opportunities, it was very frustrating.’’
What followed was a hard-fought period of extra-time, with the River Rats’ 2013 leading goalscorer Chris Mathew stepping up to the plate, converting his side’s second goal right on the stroke of full-time and handing the River Rats a thrilling 2-1 victory.
‘‘They had all the momentum going into extra-time,’’ Gulson said. ‘‘They were the better team but, like us, missed a few scoring opportunities. The pressure was on.
‘‘With not long to go, Chris knocked it in, and I think I may have rushed onto the field before the umpire blew his whistle to end the game.
‘‘The celebrations were the biggest I’ve ever been involved in on the hockey field.’’
Ross Berryman, who Gulson had penned in as a crucial player in the lead-up to Saturday’s game, was the recipient.
‘‘He must have read Friday’s paper,’’ Gulson said.
‘‘Ross had one of his better games of the year, he was superb.’’
Gulson highlighted his defensive structure, led by Jayden Gulson, as a key to the River Rats’ strong start.
David Bosse and Jordan Tamblyn (who was awarded best-on-ground) were also dominant.
On the stroke of half-time, an opportunity to score went begging which reflected the state of play for most of the opening half.
‘‘We struggled to convert after our first goal,’’ Gulson said. ‘‘I’d say we dominated the first half but just couldn’t finish it off, which put the pressure back on us.’’
After the half-time break, Mooroopna upped the ante which was a worrying sign for Gulson and the Echuca-Moama camp.
The Cats peppered the goal ring but failed to convert their opportunities.
‘‘I must admit, I was really concerned when they started to get on top,’’ he said.
‘‘The most pleasing aspect was we kept our composure, it’s a credit to everyone involved,’’ he said.
Rowan Williams, goalie James Whatman and Jayden Gulson prepare to defend a short corner for the River Rats.
Pictured are the men’s team (from back left) Ash Phipps, Johnno Nunn, David Boss, Scott Robinson, Jordan Tamblyn, Rowan Williams, Regan More, Chris Mathews; (front) Ross Berryman, Darren Kell, Adam Thompson, Ross Brown, Mick Gulson, coach, Jayden Gulson, Lachy Thompson, Bryce Lowndes and goalie James Whatman.
Echuca goalie James Whatman celebrates.
The A grade men's hockey team.
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