ST Pat’s was forced to dig deep in defence on Saturday against Confederates to keep its hopes of a women’s Premier League Hockey title alive.
While the Saints ended up 3-1 minor semi-final victors over Feds at the Cooke Hockey Complex, the visitors provided a stern test.
For some 20 minutes in the second half – at a point when there was only a goal in it – Feds piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser.
But with experienced goalkeeper Tracey Gunning in brilliant touch, the Saints lifted. Kirsty Ekert, who had also scored the opener, fired in with 13 minutes remaining to move her side within one win of the grand final.
“The second half they probably had the majority of the attack, we probably lost a bit of control there,” Ekert admitted.
“Our aim at half-time was to score next and when that sort of back-fired, we panicked, we panicked heaps, and that’s when they started to get on top of us.
“But we seemed to really dig deep for each other and we came back.”
Earlier the Saints had made a brilliant start against a Confederates side which was making its first finals appearance since re-entering the competition in 2012.
Ekert found the mark off a penalty corner in the 11th minute, then two minutes later Ella Menzies struck from the set play to make it 2-0.
Given Feds had only once scored more than two goals against the Saints in the past seven years, it was a good sign for the blue and whites.
However, the visitors kept themselves in the contest when Ellen Van Hoek scored from a penalty corner. Her effort made it 2-1 at half-time.
The second stanza saw Feds further lift its intensity, but Gunning was up to the challenge.
With 13 minutes left Ekert found space down the right and a smart finish put her side ahead 3-1.
Both Millah Allcorn and Phoebe Litchfield had chances for Feds inside the final 10 minutes but Pat’s held on. The Saints will now meet Bathurst City in the preliminary final.
“City it is now and after last year, we’ve got to try and make amends,” Ekert said