ON face value, Orange Ex-Services’ 2-0 women’s Premier League Hockey victory over United in Parkes on Saturday is the upset of the 2015 season to date.
The seventh-placed side headed into round six up against the team sitting first, unbeaten and at home - by rights, Parkes should have gotten the chocolates, consolidated top spot on the women’s PLH ladder and sent the Darryn Marjoram and Mitch Kennewell-coached Orange club packing.
But it didn’t happen.
And after a hit-and-miss start to the season that has been largely more miss than hit, Marjoram is hoping Ex-Services’ first away win of the season will help kick a side many predicted to feature in the thick of the semi-final action into gear.
“We just need to keep on improving,” he said, something the girls will no doubt do with the return of Ellen Van Hoek and state representative Chloe Barrett in the coming weeks.
“As long as that happens I think the girls will grow in confidence and as a team.”
Proving the 2015 competition is extremely close, the visitors fired from the outset and turned that strong start into points early when Kasey Byrne hit home the game’s first goal, capitalising on some brilliant lead-up work by the Ex-Services mid-field to successfully score.
The second goal, as Marjoram put it, came on the back of a bit of luck.
Veteran defender Mel Hope sliced through the Parkes defence and produced a strong pass that ricocheted off the goal post.
Faced with an awkward deflection, gun striker Haley Butcherine was able to nudge the ball past the Parkes keeper to double the visitors’ advantage to 2-0 by half-time.
“A week ago that wouldn’t have gone our way,” Marjoram said, the blue and golds holding firm in the second half to secure victory.
“It would have hit one of the girls in the foot or something like that, but Haley’s footwork was great and she was able to capitalise.
“The girls have always been working hard and the improvement individually was always there, but as a unit things are starting to click now ... the girls are beginning to know each other’s games. It’s great to see.”
Marjoram said his side’s defence was sensational, with stand-in keeper Tiff Atkinson instrumental in helping defenders Hope and Madie Smith ensure the Parkes attack failed to penetrate the circle in the first half.
“They lifted in the second half but we were able to hold firm. It’s a great win for the girls.”
ORANGE EX-SERVICES 2 (Haley Butcherine, Kasey Byrne) def PARKES UNITED 0.