2014 - Women's Country Championships - Review and Results

Women’s Victorian Country Championships 2014

Saturday 7, Sunday 8 and Monday 9 June 2014




Wimmera women win at Hockey Victoria Country Championships

Wimmera women have taken out the B1 premiership at the Hockey Victoria Women’s Country Championships at Geelong for 2014.

After a slow start to the tournament Wimmera were not expecting to make the final.  The first game was a learning curve with women from four different clubs coming together and learning to play with each other, losing 2-0 to Latrobe Valley at the main centre at Stead Park.  Elly O’Connor was providing some good attack and captain Stephanie Daly was working hard.  Hannah Fredericks in goals was defending well, as were full backs Helen Cannell and Rebecca Batchelor.

Games were all 2 x 20 minute halves.

Second game on Saturday out at Geelong Grammar was another tough one with one of Peninsula’s players usually an A grade player who was only playing in the B division while she was carrying an injury.  Even with the injury ‘Maddy’ scored several of Peninsula’s goals and they were up three at half time.  But Wimmera worked out how to get in front of them learning that it was easier to shut them down by cutting the ball off before it got to the hanging high forwards, especially Maddy who once had the ball was very difficult to get it back from.  This made a huge difference to the game and while Peninsula scored another three in the second half, Wimmera were able to match them with three of their own in the second half.  Wimmera were starting to play well and with encouragement and advice from Claire’s dad Ian ‘Barney’ Barnett on the sideline, he was quickly adopted as our coach for the tournament!  Lucy O’Connor scored our first.  Her second goal was from a great line of team play, starting with Helen Cannell at left half crossing it across the field to Wendy Crowhurst on right wing who crossed into the centre and after a couple of touches by a couple of forwards Lucy got it in.  Elly O’Connor scored her goal from a short corner, a lovely hit straight in.  Wimmera had several attacking short corners in that second half, really stepping up the attack with the girls starting to gel.  Wimmera lost 6-3.

Saturday evening involved quick showers and getting back to Stead Park for a Pizza and Pasta night as part of celebrations for this being the 90th Country Week.  Charlie Martin and couple of tournament officials spoke briefly of some of the history of the tournament, with a long-hooked hockey stick to show probably from the 1970s.  They spoke of the grass fields they used to play the tournament on which used to render their often white uniforms a disaster. Hannah, having earlier made friends with the USA girls who were aged 19 to 26 on tour, introduced them to UDLs which apparently they don’t have in the USA.  They were like kids in a candy store.  A few girls went out Saturday night for some fun but were back at the Big 4 caravan park where we were staying by a respectable 1am!

Sunday we were a woman down with Stef Wyatt out temporarily with a foot injury.  Sami Crowhurst was also carrying a knee injury but was playing on.  For game three we played a great team game at Geelong Grammar against Goulburn Valley which lifted the team’s confidence levels and resulted in lots of scoring opportunities.  Hannah in goals didn’t get a touch the whole game, with the ball barely passing the 25 yard defence line.  The halfbacks Lucy O’Connor on left, Elly O’Connor in the centre, and Wendy Crowhurst on the right in the first half and Rachel Clark in the second half were cutting nearly everything off with the full backs only getting a few touches although they were hitting their stride and reading the play well to help keep us in attack.  There were four or five near goals including one shot from Wendy while playing on the right wing.  Goals were both scored in the first half in between lots of short corners.  Scorers were Stephanie Daly and Kelly Smithyman with one each.

Lauren Bendall’s one-handed runs down the left wing were particularly impressive and gained us lots of ground.  Inners Kelly Smithyman and Stephanie Daly were working really hard picking up balls from defensive lines and working them through the field with lots of passing.  Centre forward Claire Barnett was ready for the ball in attack and was working it through the full backs using the wings and passbacks to halfbacks to open up space which was also working effectively for many players.

Some shopping and lunch at Westfield and a few having naps on the bus filled in a few hours Sunday afternoon.

Our fourth game was back at Stead Park in the early evening and although it didn’t actually count towards the ladder the 3rd in Pool A vs 4th in Pool B fun match was another good chance for our Wimmera girls to perfect their working relationships before finals the following morning.  Wimmera in third position in Pool A played West Gippsland who had not scored a goal for the tournament so far.  Wimmera had most of the attack and many short corners.  Great passing and team play was helped along by individual advice from coach Barney.  Elly O’Connor, Stephanie Daly and Claire Barnett each scored a goal for Wimmera to win 3-0.

Sunday night a delicious tea was had at the Norlane Hotel ‘Oppy’s Bistro’ not far from the hockey centre before a quiet night to be ready for an early start.

Our B1 semi final started promptly at 8am with the pitch still dewy and footprints making great patterns on the turf.  Wimmera had previously lost to Peninsula 6-3 but were confident that they could hold their own after learning how to shut down Peninsula’s attack.  Hearing that Peninsula were without ‘Maddy’ due to an Achilles injury we were even more confident (although still disappointed for her as some of the girls were friends with her).  Wimmera had also picked up the services of ex-Wimmera player Michelle Searle who was now playing for Hockey Geelong A1, to help fill the void left by injured Stef Wyatt, saving herself for the possible final.  Wimmera scored first through Elly O’Connor directly from a short corner.  Peninsula equalised to 1-1 before half time.  In the second half a pass on a short corner from Elly O’Connor went to Stephanie Daly who hit a beautiful direct goal from the right side.  Our third goal was by Lauren Bendall who got the last touch in after an almost joint effort with Kelly Smithyman.  Our girls were on fire right from the start of this match and this was one of our best team games.  Wimmera won 3-1.

Wimmera were the underdogs going into the grand final at Stead Park on Monday afternoon, having finished third in the pool and having lost to their opponents previously 2-0.  We had watched Latrobe Valley in their semi final and noticed they were tiring with several of their players being a bit more senior and were confident that our younger legs in many of our players would be able to combat their experience.  It was going to be a tough match however but we soon had the first score on the board through Stephanie Daly – it was from a short corner and was a beautiful hit that ran up a defender’s stick and up into the goal.  Latrobe Valley equalised to be 1-1 before half time.  Lauren, Kelly, Claire, Steph, Sami, Wendy all interchanged well on the forward line, and half backs Rachel, Elly and Lucy worked well on the half.  After our share of attack and shots at goal, some hard work and some good defending there were no more scores during the match.  Helen and Bec were doing a great job at full back, and Hannah in goals was excellent.  Even Stef Wyatt made a comeback with her sore foot to do her bit in the final! And well done Sami too with her sore knee still making good efforts on the wing.  Michelle Searle gave a couple of ladies a chance for a break too which helped us keep going to the last minute.  Although not our best passing and team work we managed to hold out Latrobe Valley under pressure to the final whistle including Rachel Clark’s claim to fame for the tournament being a good stop almost on the line and sweep away with about 30 seconds to go.  There was no extra time played – straight to shoot outs, as per tournament rules.

The penalty shoot outs were intense but Wimmera was reasonably confident going into them with several proven goal scorers in our league lining up to the take the shootouts.  The shootouts at this level are played as an 8-second one-on-one with the goalie, starting from the 25 yard line dribbling into the D and taking a shot or two if time allowed, with five to be taken by each team and if equal then sudden death.

1 Claire Barnett scored first

1 Latrobe Valley was blocked by goalie Hannah

Wimmera up 1-0

2 Lauren Bendall scored

2 Latrobe Valley missed.

Wimmera up 2-0.

3 Elly O’Connor was wide with hers and missed

3 Latrobe Valley scored.

Wimmera up 2-1.

4 Lucy O’Connor made no mistake scoring our third penalty.

4 Latrobe Valley also scored from their fourth penalty.

Wimmera up 3-2.

5 Stephanie Daly taking our fifth penalty scored the fourth and winning goal for us.

Wimmera up 4-2.

5 We waited as Latrobe Valley decided not to take their final penalty, with Wimmera unbeatable.

Penalty shoot out scores: 4-2.

Overall grand final score: Wimmera 5 defeated Latrobe Valley 3.

Well done to all the girls for each playing their part and doing it well, for adapting to playing some different positions throughout the tournament, for the great camaraderie on and off the field, and for the improvement in every game from game one through to the finals. Unbelievable.

CEO of Hockey Victoria Andrew Skillern presented our captain Stephanie Daly with the premiership shield and pennant flag.  Tournament Director and friend of the Wimmera Hockey Association Charlie Martin as well as another official also made speeches and wished us a safe trip home.  Our presentation was made inside the clubrooms fairly soon after our game to allow us to get on the road home sooner.

Watching the USA touring team was a highlight of the tournament – playing in A1 division.  Hannah quickly made friends with their team and we had a few chances to socialise with them during the tournament, introducing them to some Australian favourites!  They lost their semi final partly because one of their teammates got hit just under her eye by the ball and very soon had a black and closed eye which may have thrown their concentration.  All the best to ‘Kayla’, I think...  But they were back to cheer us on in our grand final before they received commemorative medallions for being part of the tournament as part of the presentations.

Wimmera women would like to thank IGA Nhill for donating breakfast items, West Wimmera Health Service for use of the bus, W &H Cannell Builders for use of the trailer, Cambrelles for the great looking team t-shirts, the Big 4 caravan park where we stayed, Steph and Helen for organising the weekend, Helen for doing a great job driving the bus all weekend, and Barney for stepping in as coach at the last minute! Thanks to our umpires Elly O’Connor and Helen Cannell.  Thanks to our photographers Ian Barnett, Stefani Wyatt, Chris O’Connor and Rachel Clark (between us there were 1236 photos on my camera for the weekend!! – and all good!).  Thanks to Hockey Victoria for a great tournament.

Also Ian and Meryn Barnett, Chris and Narelle O’Connor, Steph’s parents Mr and Mrs Daly, the couple of Wimmera men (Jordan W and Jordan C) who came across to Geelong to watch some games, and a couple of ex-Wimmera players supporting us including Michelle Searle who stepped in to help on the last day, and the USA team for supporting us and vocally cheering us on.

Well done to Claire Barnett who also played a full tournament with her Ballarat based side Westvic who played in the A2 division, also scoring a couple of goals with them, although they lost their semi final.

It was great to have WHA facebook up and running this year, being able to share results and photos instantly.  We felt like we had heaps of support from back home, as well as getting regular updates on how our Wimmera men were going as well.

We look forward to next year when Stead Park will have two artificial turf fields available for competition.  We were told that the new turf was only 7 days away from being ready, so just missed out on being able to use it for this tournament.

Go Wimmera!

Captain: Stephanie Daly (as voted by the team on day one)

Coach: Ian ‘Barney’ Barnett

Team Managers: Stephanie Daly and Helen Cannell.

Umpires: Elly O’Connor and Helen Cannell.

Coordinators: Stephanie Daly and Helen Cannell

Photographers: Ian Barnett, Stefani Wyatt, Chris O’Connor and Rachel Clark.


- Rachel Clark, WHA Records Secretary 2014




Saturday 7 June 2014

11.30am at Stead Park

Wimmera 0 lost to Latrobe Valley 2.

(goals: NA)


4.00pm at Geelong Grammar

Wimmera 3 lost to Peninsula 6

(goals: Lucy O’Connor 2, Elly O’Connor 1).


Sunday 8 June 2014

10.15am at Geelong Grammar

Wimmera 2 defeated Goulburn Valley 0

(goals: Stephanie Daly 1, Kelly Smithyman 1).


5.45pm at Stead Park (3rd Pool A vs 4th Pool B – match had no bearing on the ladder)

Wimmera 3 defeated West Gippsland 0

(goals: Elly O’Connor 1, Stephanie Daly 1, Claire Barnett 1).


Monday 9 June 2014

8.00am at Stead Park – Semi Final 2nd vs 3rd

Wimmera 3 defeated Peninsula 1

(goals: Elly O’Connor 1, Stephanie Daly 1, Lauren Bendall 1).


2.45pm at Stead Park – Grand Final B1 division

Wimmera 5 defeated Latrobe Valley 3

(goals: Stephanie Daly 2, Claire Barnett 1, Lauren Bendall 1, Lucy O’Connor 1).




Wimmera Women (team photo):

Standing, from left: Kelly Smithyman, Wendy Crowhurst, captain Stephanie Daly, Elly O’Connor, Lucy O’Connor, coach Ian Barnett, Helen Cannell, Lauren Bendall, Rebecca Batchelor.

Front: Samantha Crowhurst, Claire Barnett, Hannah Fredericks, Stefani Wyatt, Rachel Clark.

Absent: Michelle Searle (playing her A1 final).