'Fantastic' play creates even stronger Wests club
HOCKEY: Successful Ipswich coach Brent Nicholls has guided Wests to many grand final, mid-season final and intercity victories.
But what pleased the master mentor most in Sunday's 4-2 Combined Competition final win over Rangeville was the terrific tempo his team played.
Even though Wests were unable to break Rangeville's defence until the second quarter, the Magpies produced a wonderful style of hockey.
"It was fantastic,'' Nicholls said. "The first quarter was the best quarter of hockey that I've coached.
"It was really enjoyable for the team for 17 minutes.
"They (Rangeville) came ready to play and I thought we were ready to play. It was just a really, really good contest.''
While happy his unbeaten team secured another victory this season, Nicholls said the way the Magpies played was more important than the result.
"If we played at that tempo for the whole game and they beat us, fair enough,'' he said. "But I thought we played well.
"We created enough opportunities. Their keeper (Sarah Steinhardt) was phenomenal.''
Wests' unstoppable striker Amy Kickbusch finally broke the deadlock in the second quarter with a field goal. She scored her second minutes later after a strike by Jordn Office deflected off the post.
Kickbusch completed her hat-trick in the third quarter with a trademark tomahawk smash.
But she also played a team role, setting up Jess Wilkinson's goal in the third quarter. Kickbusch shielded the ball in the goal circle before cleverly turning and delivering a well-timed pass for Wilkinson to strike into the net.
That put Wests up 3-1, propelling the Magpies towards another title.
"She's phenomenal," Wilkinson said of former international player Kickbusch (nee Korner).
"She's such a mentor to everyone and I think she's someone we all look up to and have a lot of respect for.''
Nicholls said while his skipper was leading the way, Wests have plenty to be excited about with young players like Jemma Payne, Monique Moran, Emma Picton and Georgia Stenzel gaining valuable A-Grade experience.
Even though Sunday's squad looked settled, Nicholls expected to keep tweaking his line-up as they chase another Ipswich premiership.
"All the younger ones have stepped up,'' Nicholls said.
"What we're really tried to concentrate on is now that we're almost two-three years into the system, they are all just building games in A-Grade.
"So when they get to a game like this and they're under pressure, they are not like they were two years ago. They've got 40 plus games under their belt now.
"It's being in the dugout, being around these experienced guys and getting big games under their belt.
"All of a sudden, they're not overrawed. They take that back to Reserve Grade and they just keep going.''