TAMWORTH’S U18 hockey team kicks off its bid for a hat-trick today when it meets Far North Coast in the State Championships.
The competition was changed from 17s to 18s this year and, after winning the 17s last year, the team is confident it can do it again.
It is a bit if a freak year for Tamworth hockey, with the same playing group winning the State 15s Championships three years ago.
If they can manage a win this weekend it will be three in a row at state level for the playing group.
The only change to the side from last year is the addition of 16-year-old Will Turner, following a four-goal performance for South on the weekend.
The Andrew Farmilo- coached side is lucky to have two NSW 18s players in Josh Worpel and Chris Ninness, as well as NSW Blue player Anthony Doolan.
The side’s biggest weapon is Australian representative Isaac Farmilo.
The striker recently returned from national duties in Vanuatu where he was an integral part of them qualifying for the Youth Olympics.
While the team has a tight defence with the like of Worpel, Doolan and Andrew Finch at the back, its strength is in its attack.
“We have a pretty balanced side but they play an attacking style,” Andrew Farmilo said.
The two Isaacs – Farmilo and Woodley – are devastating near goal and benefit from one of the most creative midfields in the state.
“It is a bit of a freak year,” Farmilo said.
“I don’t know of any other teams that have won two state cups.”
The Tamworth side has gone in ranked at number one and has drawn a good pool.
Following the FNC game this morning, it will meet Macarthur this afternoon.
Tomorrow will see them line up against Lithgow and Central Coast, while Sydney, Illawarra and Newcastle battle it out in the other pool.
“We have drawn a good pool and we know a lot of the other teams and players,” Farmilo said.
“We have got plans for each and know which players to tag to free our guys up.”
That age group also benefits from amazing depth, with the second grade side also kicking goals right through the age groups.
Tamworth Seconds will play in the second division and have not missed a finals appearance since the U13s, although are yet to win one.
Their strength also lies in a creative midfield, with Jack Cruickshank, Ehren Hazell and David Willis tasked with directing the side’s attack.
Willis is a short corner specialist and combines well with striker Tom Smith to find the back of the goal.
Captain Henry Cameron is a strong leader and big centre back who holds the defence together and the goals out.
Coach Hayden Lewin is confident the team can once again hit the finals and perhaps go one step further.
They will meet Manning Valley and Parkes today, before playing Sydney 3 and Newcastle 2 tomorrow.
The finals for all divisions will be held on Sunday.