Played ‘huge’ but goals hard to find

TAMWORTH was unable to defend its State U15s Girls title at Taree on the weekend but will remain in the top division after scraping through to avoid relegation.

The Graham D’Ambros-coached sides 1-all draw with Newcastle in their final play-off game was enough to keep them in Division 1 for next year.

It was a story of missed opportunities over the weekend, as it was for the New England girls.

They finished seventh in Division 2 after beating Parramatta in their play-off game 4-nil.

“It was very tight competition,” coach Trevor Brown said.

“The top two weren’t finalised until the last (pool) game.”

New England was in the mix but couldn’t come up with the win it needed going down to Central Coast 3-2.

That put them fourth in their pool.

But such was the closeness of the competition that the win saw Central Coast jump from being out of the top two to top of the pool.

It was a near run thing for New England – for a draw at least.

“They (Central Coast) scored with just under a minute and 10 seconds to go,” Brown said.

New England had been pressing for a match-winner and had a short corner. Central Coast saved it, and two hits later went up the other end and scored.

It gave New England two draws and two losses from its pool games.

“We were in each game,” Brown said.

Both losses were only by a goal.

“The girls have matched it with them and played a nice style of hockey,” Brown said before their final game.

“We’ve just been unfortunate when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net.”

“We’ve created opportunities but just not capitalised to the full extent we could have.”

He was still impressed with the way they played.

“We’ve got two U13s playing with us,” he said.

D’Ambros felt it could have been a different story for his side had they been able to score goals.

“We played absolutely huge,” he said.

“We dominated at least the first 15-20 minutes in each game but couldn’t score a goal.

“We couldn’t convert the chances.”

The Newcastle game was a perfect example.

“We dominated 90 per cent of the game and they scored with three minutes to go to make it 1-all,” D’Ambros said.

Against Grafton they dominated 23 minutes of the 25 minutes in the first half and had at least five chances to score.

Grafton then turned around and scored two goals in two minutes and Tamworth was then chasing the game.

Katelyn Morgan was D’Ambros’ player for the tournament.

“She played everywhere we sent her and just ran and ran,” he said.

Bec Willis, Sophie Littlejohns, Gabbi D’Ambros and Libbi Maher also had strong weekends.