Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Knights are shining lights at titles

Goulburn Valley Hockey Association players Grace Arnold, Mardi Petherick and Alyssa Roberts have played pivotal roles in the North East Country Knights' under-15 girls' team winning the Junior State Championships title.

MATTHEW GALEA July 9, 2014 3:05am

Grace Arnold, Alyssa Roberts and Mardi Petherick were crucial to the under-15 girls Knights’ triumph at the Junior State Championships.

Grace Arnold, Mardi Petherick and Alyssa Roberts knew they were playing in a good team from their first training session with the North East Country Knights under-15 girls.

It was such a good team, in fact, it took out the under-15 girls Junior State Championship title, defeating Western Wildcats via an eight-second shootout after drawing 2-2 after normal time.

‘‘The Knights won last year, and I was expecting to win on the first day,’’ Arnold said.

‘‘But after the first day’s play I wasn’t so sure because everyone else was good as well.

‘‘It was my first time playing JSC, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.’’

On the first day, the Knights drew 0-0 with Southern Sharks, before beating North West Country Lightning 5-0.

The Knights picked up another two wins on day two, beating Eastern Hotshots 2-1 and then knocking off Central Flames 2-0.

Further 2-0 and 1-0 wins against North East Red Devils and the Wildcats respectively set up a grand final rematch against the metro side.

The game finished 2-2, but with Victorian under-15 girls goalkeeper Isabel Kramer in goal, the Knights came out on top in the eight-second shootout — where players have eight seconds to score against the opposition keeper in a one-on-one contest — to seal the win.

Petherick was tasked with taking the first shot and succeeded, to help set up the win.

Petherick said it was great to be able to have the opportunity to play just with girls as opposed to the mixed Goulburn Valley Hockey Association competition, while Arnold felt the week was a great chance to develop skills.

‘‘It’s interesting to be with all those people and playing at that high standard,’’ Petherick said.

‘‘You learn a lot.’’

Roberts, who played with Petherick in a Lightning side prior to GVHA’s switch this year, said playing in the Knights exposed the girls to a higher calibre of player.

‘‘We knew they were good because they won it last year,’’ Roberts said.

Donna Sutherland coached the girls and predicted a bright future for all three after their strong performances in her zone side.

‘‘All three of them were fantastic,’’ Sutherland said.

‘‘Alyssa played mainly in the forward line where her pace served her very well and she assisted a number of goals.

‘‘All three of them were really versatile though and I think Mardi at one stage had played just about every position on the pitch.

‘‘They’re very talented, all-round girls and I think they have a bright future in the game if they stick with it.’’

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