Panthers to defend title

SATURDAY sees the Workies Panthers Premier League hockey girls attempt to defend their title when they take on Bathurst St Patricks at Bathurst.

They made their way to the grand final after finishing minor premiers, lost the major semi to St Patricks and then won 3-nil on Saturday against Orange Ex-Services.

The Panthers went into the final without state junior goalie Jess Luchetti and Amy Capaldi, but are lucky to have two quality goalies in Shahana Hamment who is the other regular goalie.

It was a hungry looking Panthers side that jumped to a 1-nil lead after only five minutes when Abby Wilson picked up a good cross to find herself in the open and calmly slotted it home.

The Panthers were dominant with Ex-Services finding it hard to keep up with the defending premiers’ speed and precision.

After some sustained attack Bree Pyne, who has been in great form at the back end of the season, made it 2-nil with this score standing until the break.

Coach Greg Banning was pleased with his side’s first half.

“We have dominated the match to date, but we can’t go defensive,” he said.

“Push up and continue to attack and our aim for the second half is to shut them out.”

They did just that and after only two minutes of the second half, co-captain Amanda Saladine made a superb solo run into the circle and then slammed a perfectly executed back-stick past the goalie to put her side 3-nil up.

To their credit Ex-Service defended stoutly, keeping the rampaging Panthers’ forwards out until the final bell to make the final score 3-nil.

“It was a different mind set out there today,” Saladine said.

“We knew that a loss would end our season and everyone wanted desperately to make it through to the big match against St Pats.

“We did not play that bad against St Pats last week, but a five minute period cost us dearly where they scored three goals.

“We came back strongly in the final minutes to score two goals, but their lead proved too much.

“All the girls are excited to be in the grand final again and hopefully we can bring the title back to Lithgow again this year.”

Best for the Panthers in what was a excellent team effort were Saladine, Abby Wilson and Bree Pyne in attack while at the back Tamika Bostock, Andrea Gillard and Tiff Northey shut down any goal scoring

opportunities.

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