Goulburn Valley Hockey Association is well represented in North West Country Lightning teams which had success at the Hockey Victoria Zone Challenge at the weekend.By Matthew Galea
Twenty junior hockey players from the Goulburn Valley took part in the first three rounds of Hockey Victoria’s Zone Challenge at the weekend across six North West Country Lightning sides.
The Goulburn Valley Hockey Association was best represented in the under-14 boys’ team (seven players), the under-16 boys (six players) and the under-12 girls (four players), with the girls getting off to a great start, winning all three of their opening games.
Abbey Mathers, Jorgie Wright, Mikiely Smolenaars (all Echuca-Moama) and Emily Schreck (SYC) helped the under-12 girls to wins over South East Country Cougars, North East Country Knights and South West Country Eagles, enough to put the girls second on the table after three games, trailing Southern Metro Sharks by a shot-difference of five.
‘‘It was a great start to the challenge for them and they’ve really worked hard,’’ coach Nick Youngson said.
‘‘We’ve got a training session next week in Echuca and we’ll be working hard out there to get even more improvement out of them.’’
Echuca-Moama’s Shae Oliver is also a part of the under-12 girls, but was unavailable for the first round of action.
The under-14 boys also got off to a good start in the Zone Challenge, winning two of their first three games.
Nathan McBain, Angus Press (Strikers), Shaun McPhillamy, Liam Schreck (SYC), Joel Mulcahy, Clayton Thompson (Echuca-Moama) and Kade Bucheli (Mooroopna) are the Goulburn Valley representatives in the team that enjoyed wins over the Eagles and Cougars.
The under-12 boys’ side, which featured Goulburn Valley’s William Kenny, sits top of its league with three wins from three, while Mardi Petherick and Alyssa Roberts helped the under-14 girls to fifth spot with two wins and a loss.
The under-16 girls, whose sole Goulburn Valley representative was Paige Oliver, are also fifth with a win and two losses after three games, while the under-16 boys also sit in fifth with a win, a draw and a loss.
North West Country Lightning co-ordinator Ged Grimwade said the contribution of players had been typically strong from the Gouburn Valley.
‘‘The Goulburn Valley has consistently put out quality players in good quantity,’’ Grimwade said.
‘‘We’ve had a lot of kids from Echuca-Moama this year, which is a credit to the work that Renee Davidson and Mick Gulson are doing out there, not to forget the work that is being done at SYC, Strikers and Mooroopna.’’
This is the first year that the Zone Challenge has run, with Hockey Victoria looking to address the lack of high-quality competition for juniors in summer.
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