Upsets or surprises? No matter what you call them the 2015 Hockey season continued to be hard to follow when ‘elimination’ and ‘qualification’ were played over the weekend.
In the Elimination Finals between the thirdand fourth placed teams Renmark ended Berri’s season in A Grade Men. In the first half Berri appeared to be on top ut could not convert its chances against a resolute Renmark defence led by Nigel Stoeckl, Ben Duggin and Josh Fielke and when James Hutchins goaled against the run of play midway through the half it set up a 1-0 score line at the interval. The second half was in a word hectic as players from both sides put their bodies on the line. Both sides had opportunities to score, Berri in particular was repeatedly thwarted by the brilliance of Renmark goalkeeper Ollie Coats, and with a goalless second half Renmark kept its season alive 1-0. Coats, Stoeckel and Fielke were named best for Renmark and Nathan Bradford, Brett Stokes and Tony Halupka for Berri.
In the Women’s Elimination game Waikerie started strongly against a Renmark side that was missing key player Juliette Mallinson and with Ashleigh Baker, Emma Vallelonga and Trinity Schmidt prominent goals to Vallelonga and Carlye Waye from penalty corners gave it a handy 2-0 lead at half time. Laura Strout, Amy Evans and Lauren Benda for Renmark had worked hard to keep the opponent at bay for the rest of the half. Renmark started the second half perfectly with a goal from a determined Alison Giles but from then it was a nailbiter in an even contest in which both sides missed scoring opportunities. Waikerie with Monica Hansen, Schmidt, Lisa Redemski and Kristen Pick outstanding defeated Renmark (Laura Strout, Nic Schumann, Lauren Benda) 2-1.
In other Men’s Elimination Finals Waikerie will advance after a 2-2 result in B Grade against Berri. Jason Bowers, Dean Clark and Brady Martin starred for Waikerie and Stephen Lawson, Phil Lawson and John Newsham for Berri.
It was the same scenario in Under 18 with Renmark (James Hutchins, Oliver Coats, Ben Duggin) drawing with Loxton (Briley Gibbs, Joel Hopper, Zach Doecke) 1-1 while in Under 15 Loxton progressed with a 3-0 win against Renmark. Joel Hopper scored all 3 goals and was best for Loxton along with Liam Richardson and Lachlan Biele Jonty and Jay Botton, Jackson Webb and Ben Kaye for Renmark.
In Women’s Under 18 Grade there was another draw 1-1 between Waikerie and Loxton with the higher team on the ladder Waikerie ( Monica Hansen, Lisa Redemski, Sarah Weir) still alive and Loxton (Mare Hartwig, Chloe Sharrad, Jordan Schaeffer) eliminated.
In Under 12 Mixed Waikerie White (Lucas Hocking best & 3 goals, Lalia Loffler, Massino Mitolo) defeated Loxton (Jonty Richardson, Connor Size, Samuel Nitschke) 3-2.
To the A Grade Qualifying Finals Loxton in the Men’s had appeared to e steaming towards a successful defence of its premiership but it ran into keen rival Waikerie. Loxton scored the only first half goal via young Briley Gibbs in a tight first half in which both defences were on top. In the second half Loxton through Jimmy Lange, Steven Trezise and Gibbs applied the pressure but Mark Kroehn repelled attacks repeatedly and with Brenton Kroehn and prominent in attack it was Waikerie that set up Jason Resemski for the equaliser. Trezise, Lange and Karl Hennig never stopped running to keep Loxton in the attacking circle but Waikerie with its pace also generated chances and Rowan Hope with his excellent skills sent his team a goal clear late in the game. Waikerie booked a Grand Final ticket 2-1 while Loxton is set to face the Renmark threat this weekend to survive. Best for Waikerie were Mark Kroehn, Clayton Hollamby and Brenton Kroehn and for Loxton Trezise, Gibbs and Hennig.
In the Women’s match a week after Loxton had defeated defending champion Berri the 2014 premier fought back for a 2-2 draw and as minor premier gains a place in the grand final. Berri gained many scoring opportunities early but it was not until the midway point of the first half that it was rewarded with a goal to Jane Menzel. Not to be outdone Billie Jo Hammerstein replied for Loxton from a goal circle ‘frenzy’ to make it 1-1 at the half way point. The second half saw neither side able to take control with the ball passing from end to end. The pressure on Loxton defenders Louise Paschke, Haylee Symens and Louise Smith was finally successful for Berri when Billie Aston scored its second goal after a penalty corner variation. But the never say die attitude of Loxton was on notice again when BJ Hammerstein found herself unmarked in the second to score her second and equalise with 11 minutes on the clock. With Berri in defensive mode it prevented any further score to head to the defence of its title with Loxton faced with getting past Waikerie before challenging again.
In B Grade Women Berri also went to the grand final with a narrow 3-2 win over Waikerie. Helen Fielke goaled twice for Berri with Kris Weir, Kristen Hibberd and Tegan Nourse the best players while stand outs for Waikerie were Rosie Lawson, Nina Rayner and Sarah Schiller.
Under 18 Women will also have Berri in the grand final after it defeated Renmark 2-0. Berri was credited for an overall team performance with goals from Ada Walladge and Ellyn Cale and Renmark’s best were Christins Glekas, Ashleigh Mallinson and Jasmine Evans.