Best game of Astley Cup hockey in 25 years?
Victorious Bathurst High School coach Jackie Hood thinks so, absolutely.
The hosts fended off multiple challenges from a gallant Dubbo College at the Bob Roache Field on Friday morning, in the end securing a 1-0 triumph on the back of a terrific strike from Sophie McCauley late in the game.
Bathurst High threw everything at the visiting Dubbo girls but representative goalkeeper Lilli Campbell – both sides’ Western played in the cup clash after the hockey was delayed to the second day to allow the girls to return from the CHS championships at Cronulla - was a pillar between the posts and led the red and black resistance with aplomb until McCauley managed to sneak one past the Western stopper’s pads in the top left-hand corner of the goal.
Hood was thrilled, understandably given the 67-33 split of the points gifted the Bathurst school an unassailablec lead in the opening tier of its Astley Cup defence.
“I actually think that’s the best game I’ve seen in 25 years that we’ve played Dubbo,” Hood said.
“It was very competitive and Dubbo has put a lot of effort into junior development, as has Bathurst hockey and I think that was showcased today.”
Bathurst had a host of chances to break the deadlock throughout a scoreless opening half, but Campbell and co at the back defied all of them.
It was the same story early in the second half, with Dubbo’s best chance of a goal on the counter – Phoebe Bloink Hollier particularly dangerous on the fast break.
But the deciding goal eventually came off the stick of McCauley 10 minutes from time.
Hood’s Western guns were superb, Anna Cartwright, Ruby Clarke, Ella Davis and Kirsten Fitzpatrick instrumental alongside McCauley in sneaking home with a one-goal victory.
“Dubbo’s defence was great and we knew that was going to be the case. We were up against a state goalie … you can’t get a straight shot. The pressure was on and we had to adjust. We had to go around her, but we ended up going over the top of her,” Hood added.
Dubbo College mentor Virginia Wake backed Hood’s sentiment – Friday’s game was one for the books.
“This is my fourth time coaching Astley Cup and this is the strongest side we’ve had,” she enthused.
“They kept the crowd on their toes right until the last minute. I’m very proud of the girls.
“They’ve all got the talent, every single one of them.”
Along with Campbell and Bloink Hollier, Maddisyn Cafe, Maggie Keizer and Brooke Pilcher were tremendous in a narrowly beaten side.
Wake said she traveled to Bathurst on Friday morning confident of an upset win.
“But I’m biased,” she smiled.
“I thought we’d get one up but it wasn’t meant to be … bring on Orange.”
- BATHURST HIGH SCHOOL 1 (Sophie McCauley) def DUBBO COLLEGE 0