THE Illawarra South Coast under 15 girls hockey team, featuring Nowra’s Iszi Crawford and Gerringong’s Mackenzie Ford, have taken out the New South Wales Championship in Grafton.
The girls moved through the pool stages of the competition with two wins, 1-nil against Sydney East and 3-1 over Far North Coast, before losing to Tamworth 1-nil and having a hard fought nil-all draw with Northern Sydney and Beaches.
That left them on top of their tough pool on a count-back and through to the semi-finals.
From there, they didn’t look back, overcoming hosts Grafton 2-nil in the semi-final before coming up against North West Sydney in the final.
The side was placed in the tougher of the two pools and coach Danielle Ford, mother of Mackenzie, feels this helped prepare the girls for the final, a tight, physical encounter which they eventually claimed 2-nil.
Crawford opened the scoring midway through the first half before Lilly Twigg doubled the side’s advantage in the second .
“It was a very good result,” Ford said.
“They played well, it was a new team from last year, we only had two people left from the team that won state last year.
“It was a good result, especially since we travelled so far.
“The final was tight, it always takes a while to settle into the game.
“The two teams were very evenly matched, there were a lot of good battles across the park.
“The girls had to fight for their wins, it was all very even.
“North West’s pool wasn’t as tough as ours, and those tight matches helped us fight out the win in the final.”
Despite a disjointed preparation, Ford was pleased with the way the girls played as a team.
“The girls all worked hard for each other,” she said.
“We had a mixed bag of preparations, limited time to train, but they really gelled as a team, never stopped trying all weekend and were a great bunch of girls to coach.”
A number of girls have been rewarded for their efforts with selection in NSW squads.
Under 14 girls Madison Agnew and Alysha Tobbe have been picked in the NSW Under 15 girls train-on squad ahead of next April’s national championships.
Gold medalist from the 2018 Australian under 15 championships Mackenzie Ford, was rewarded for her performance in Grafton with selection in the New South Wales Athlete Accelerated Program.