THE dream of gold for Nowra’s Alex Mackay and Shoalhaven Heads’ Kyah Gray at the fifth Indoor Hockey World Cup is over.
Mackay’s men’s side lost their semi-final 2-1 at Austria, at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin.
For the first 19 minutes of the semi-final, the two differing styles of play cancelled each other out.
Australia attacked and Austria defended and, although it was intriguing, there was no breakthrough on either side.
It took until the 20th minute for the deadlock to end.
Austria's talismanic captain Michael Korper opened the scoring with a trademark penalty corner on the stroke of half-time.
His ferocious penalty corner flew past Banjamin Rennie to send his team into the break on a high note.
In the second half, Australia found their touch as Jack Hayes burst through the centre of the field and found James Knee, who slammed the ball home for an equaliser.
The danger-man that is Korper struck again to put his side 2-1 up.
The slipped penalty corner strike, which keeps proving so successful for Austria, evaded Rennie's outstretched leg to nestle in the bottom corner of the goal.
Rennie was on high alert as the clock ticked down and he pulled off a tremendous reaction save when Banjamin Stanzl whipped in a searching shot.
At the other end, Jake Sherren was unlucky as his glancing shot flew just wide of Mateusz Szymczyk's goal.
A few seconds later Australia won a penalty corner but the shot went wide.
Australia spent the last two minutes seeking a break through the disciplined Austrian defence.
The team in gold and green played with an increasing sense of urgency but their forays forward were tempered by the knowledge they could not afford to concede.
The tension on the pitch was palpable from both sides.
Despite the best efforts of Australia, the Austrian defence held firm and booked their spot in the final – where they would defeat Germany 3-2 in penalty strokes, after the match ended 3-all.
In their bronze medal match, Australia were never in it, losing 5-nil to Iran, to finish the tournament in fourth place.
Gray’s women’s side didn’t fair any better, losing their quarter-final 5-2 Belarus – seeing them finish the tournament in sixth.
There was very little to choose between the two sides in the first half of their quarter-final, with Pool B runners-up Belarus twice leading through goals from captain Ryta Batura and Yulia Kikheichyk only for Australia, who finished third in Pool A, to level thanks to strikes from Shelley Watson and Karri Somerville.
The Belarusians took their game to another level after half time, with Nastassia Syrayezhka and Maryna Nikitsina moving the score to 4-2 before Australia went for broke by replacing their goalkeeper with an outfield player.
It was a tactic that almost paid off when Australia rattled the frame of the goal with five minutes remaining, but their hopes were finally ended when a rapid Belarus counter-attack was passed into an open goal by Yulia Kurhanskaya to complete the scoring.