Goulburn Valley Hockey Association's under-13 boys' team has come home from the Junior Country Championships title after going through the tournament undefeated.DAMEN FRANCIS May 29, 2014 3:10am
Goulburn Valley’s under-13 boys’ team took out the title at last weekend’s Junior Country Championships in Melbourne.
Strikers centre-half Connor Holland led Goulburn Valley Hockey Association’s under-13 boys’ team to an impressive win at Hockey Victoria’s Junior Country Championships at the weekend.
Holland was a rock in the middle of the pitch, dictating play for much of the weekend, as Goulburn Valley went undefeated through six games in pool A at Footscray Hockey Centre.
Goulburn Valley beat Central Victoria 2-0, Hockey Geelong 1-0, Hockey Albury Wodonga 5-0 and was held to a 1-1 draw by North Central on day one.
A 1-0 win against West Gippsland in the final group game on day two set up a decider with North Central, which Goulburn Valley shaded 1-0.
Holland received quality support from Echuca-Moama’s Harrison Cooke and Benalla’s Evan Dowe.
The performance of the under-13 team even surprised coach Bryce Lowndes.
‘‘I was a little bit skeptical going into the weekend, we didn’t have a lot of training together and I didn’t know how the team was going to go,’’ Lowndes said.
‘‘They played very well and after finishing runner-up last year they won it this year.’’
Lowndes said about six players in this year’s 14-player squad played last year.
In all, Goulburn Valley sent five teams to the annual junior competition.
The under-13 girls’ team overcame a shaky start to win three of its six games in pool A, before securing a 0-0 draw with Sunraysia in the third place playoff.
Making the performance even more impressive, they did so with just 12 players for the weekend, with almost every player experiencing their first country championships.
It was a similar situation for the under-15 girls, who finished the weekend in style, with back-to-back wins on day two, including a third place playoff win against Sunraysia.
Earlier in the tournament, Sunraysia beat Goulburn Valley 3-0.
Coach Chris Chittick said at the start of the weekend the squad was full of wingers, but by the end all were capable of playing on two or more lines.
Chittick also praised the work of assistant coach Peter Roberts, who implemented several systems, including the one that helped the team win the final game, and the players for adapting so well.
The under-15 boys finished fourth, with three draws, one win and two defeats, losing to Warrnambool in the final.
The under-17 boys lost their first three games, but won the next three to finish third, beating round one conqueror Ballarat 3-0 in the final game.
Without the numbers to field an under-17 girls’ team, Echuca’s Paige Oliver and Euroa’s Lucy Moore played in the boys’ team, earning plenty of game time as the 10th and 11th players.
Moore also swung the stick for Albury-Wodonga’s girls’ side, which won the title, to play a remarkable 11 games for the weekend.
GVHA publicity officer Therese Nicholson said it was a great weekend of quality hockey.
‘‘It was a great opportunity for the GV kids because they develop as they go through the weekend, because mostly they haven’t had a lot of opportunity to play in tournaments together,’’ Nicholson said.
‘‘Albury-Wodonga are always really strong and this year we really put it to them, so we did really well.’’
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