Kate Jenner and Georgina Morgan’s NSW Arrows will face Queensland in Sunday’s Australian Hockey League women’s final after defeating Victoria 4-3 in a tight semi-final contest at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre on Saturday.
Standout performances from New South Wales captain Emily Smith and Victorian Vipers captain Emily Hurtz ensured for an exciting matchup in front of a bumper crowd.
The first term was tightly contested but an open shot in the D from Smith threatened to break the game open in the Arrows favour.
New South Wales were looking dangerous in the second period, Jenner had a chance to open the scoring from a penalty corner but her shot was smothered by the Victorian defence.
Victorian co-captain Hurtz had her chance to open the Vipers scoring, running the ball into the D from the halfway line, unfortunately the experienced forward was unable to connect.
On the halftime hooter Victoria’s Rachael Lynch allowed her first field goal for the tournament when fellow Hockeyroo Emily Smith smashed one home during the Queensland PumpPlay. An engaged Lynch was able to defend the conversion opportunity with a diving stick save to end the quarter.
Victoria entered the second half ready to attack, creating back-to-back penalty corner opportunities, but were unable to reduce the deficit.
Having recently returned from a serious injury, Arrows player Mariah Williams made a splash, finding the backboard with a strong strike from within the D. Williams made no mistake with the follow up, scoring the first conversion goal against Vipers keeper Lynch for the tournament.
In the 47th minute of the match Hurtz found herself in an attacking position once again, this time she was able to score through traffic from the field before securing the conversion point with some serious stick work.
Two New South Wales cards in as many minutes saw Morgan and Arrows co-captain Tamsin Bunt sent off the pitch.
Trailing 4-2, the numerical advantage led to successive Victorian attacks and a penalty corner opportunity in the 55thminute. Aisling Utri took advantage of the opportunity and scored the drag flick.
A last second penalty corner gave the Vipers a chance to tie the game but some solid Arrows defence saw them hold onto the victory.
The gold medal match will be played at 3.30pm on Sunday.
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