“WE’RE ecstatic, it’s amazing, it’s sensational, it’s the best feeling.”
Those were the words of Bathurst City coach Lisa Quinn on Saturday as her side beat Lithgow Panthers 5-2 in the women’s Premier League Hockey grand final in Lithgow.
The premiership was the first for Bathurst City since it downed St Pat’s in extra-time seven years ago and given the club had fallen to Panthers on grand final day four times since then, the victory was especially sweet.
“I feel like, as a coach, we have been working towards this for the last three years. I kept saying to the girls I felt this was our year because right from the first game, they were on fire,” Quinn said.
“They played well in the first round game and from there they just kept getting better and making improvements. There weren't too many times throughout the season where we didn't have good games.”
Looking for a fourth consecutive premiership, Panthers made a strong start to the contest.
City survived a fifth minute penalty corner and soon after goalkeeper Maddy Tattersall got glove to ball to stop a powerful Amanda Saladine strike.
But on 10 minutes Panthers was rewarded for its early pressure as Amelia Leard found the mark from a penalty corner.
However, that goal spurred City into action and after five minutes the Bathurst side had equalised.
Bec Bosianek broke clear through the middle, laid off to Kelsey Willott who then linked with Jess Hotham. She applied the finishing touch.
That made it 1-all, but when City again launched a quick counter attack two minutes later it took the lead.
This time Hotham worked into the circle, found Willott to the left, who then rounded Panthers’ goalkeeper and centred the ball for Bosianek to put away.
Bosianek made it 3-1 just before the break when she followed in a Quinn shot which had struck the post, gathered the rebound and slotted home.
While City had not surrendered a two-goal lead at any stage in the season, Panthers’ attacking prowess meant the job was not over.
Brooke McFadden did make things easier when she added a fourth for City 30 seconds into the second stanza.
As expected Panthers continued to fight, Tattersall at one stage making a double block off Saladine, but the clock ticked down.
When Quinn found the mark with six minutes left, City’s players knew the title was theirs.
Leard did find a late consolation with 1.44 left, but when the siren sounded City’s celebrations began.
“The strikers worked back to pick up balls from defence, the midfield came through to help us go forward, we were doing suicide tackles in defence so they couldn't get through us,” Quinn said.
“The girls really, really played well today, it was one of the best games I have seen them play.”