Graduating captain's delight as Wests surge ahead
HOCKEY: Having just graduated as a paramedic, Wests captain Eden Jackat has plenty to be proud of.
She's devoted four years on a "long road'' to completing the first stage of her medical ambitions at USQ Ipswich.
However, as she looks to further her career helping others, Jackat is enjoying her hockey as much as she ever has.
She's thrilled how the unbeaten defending Ipswich A-Grade premiers are performing this year, highlighted in their latest 11-1 win over Swifts.
"I'm so happy with how we are playing,'' she said.
"We just continue to progress every game and especially onwards from last year.''
In a warning to Wests' opponents, Jackat felt the Magpies were even stronger this year bolstered by interstate recruits including Sarah Donnelley.
Donnelley was one of five Wests' goal-scorers on Saturday night at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
Jackat scored two goals, impressed with former international striker Amy Kickbusch who again led the way with six.
"She's an absolute freak,'' Jackat said. "She's just getting better, which I don't know how that's possible.
"She's such a good mentor and it's always good to have that experience . . . especially for the kids coming up.
"She's so easygoing and happy to help.
"It's really great for the club.''
Jackat was pleased for teammate Jess Wilkinson who returned from making her Brisbane Division 1 competition debut to score for her Ipswich club.
Wests, which have dominated recent Ipswich premierships, also welcomed back another quality young striker Gabby Nicholls. She injured her ankle in the pre-season.
With the annual Combined Competition with Toowoomba cranking up, Jackat said facing some new opposition would be enjoyable.
"The Toowoomba comp is very strong and they (the players) just bring a different style of hockey which is good,'' Chuwar-based Jackat said.
Jackat, 22, has played every game for Wests this season after being appointed standalone captain.
She appreciates everything former co-captain Amy Nicholls (nee Chalk) taught her when the duo shared the role.
"I've loved it (the captaincy role) but I did love having it with Chalkie,'' Jackat said.
Wests' main challengers Hancocks beat Norths 5-0 in the other A-Grade encounter.
The Wests' men also had a productive weekend, overunning Easts 7-1 at Raceview.
Rising teenager Caleb McCoombes netted another hat-trick against a team experienced Wests' coach Greg Walker was happy to beat.
"They have got a lot of young guys I haven't seen before so you're not really sure what you were going to come up against,'' Walker said.
"Our boys stuck together and the communication was really good up front and we scored a few goals, which was good.''
Wests have experienced an "up and down'' start to this year's Ipswich competition with three wins, three losses and a draw.
"They are going pretty well,'' Walker said, concentrating on coaching this season. "We just need to get a bit of consistency in our games.
"We seem to play really good for about 70-80 percent of the game but that 20-30 percent is where they start scoring goals against us. That's where we fall away.''
In the other A-Grade match, Norths surprised defending premiers Hancocks 5-2.
Walker said Norths and Hancocks remained the teams to beat, though he wanted the Magpies to be in the mix come finals' time.
"My goal at the moment is to finish in the top two so you get two goes at a final,'' Walker said.