How a freakish extra-time goal kept a winning record intact
RELIABLE Wests' player Christian Coulson-Futcher was the man on the spot to break the deadlock and keep his club's perfect winning record intact during the drama-charged Ipswich hockey grand finals.
However, the regular A-Grader was initially surprised after his mishit during a goal mouth scramble secured Wests' a 3-2 extra-time Reserve Grade victory over Easts.
"When it went in, I sort of didn't realise,'' Coulson-Futcher said of his golden goal.
"It didn't come to my head that was the end of the game.
"It was sort of 'we've got to keep going, we've got to keep pushing'.''
Only after seeing all his teammates jumping around did Coulson-Futcher finally celebrate his freakish goal.
"I saw it going a bit wide and had to turn the body around,'' he said. "It was very much a mishit going across the goal.
"One of their defenders put it in for us so we were quite lucky.''
However, after a relative goal-scoring drought, Coulson-Futcher was happy to share the memorable moment for his team and the club.
The cliffhanger finish involving the Wests' Reserve Grade side was the third of the club's four senior grand final wins.
The Wests' A-Grade women capped the historic day coming from behind to beat Hancocks 4-2 on Saturday night.
Wests' earlier victories also came in extra time. The Reserve Grade women beat Easts 3-2 after the same scoreline in Friday night's A2 win over Thistles.
The Wests' A-Grade team Coulson-Futcher also plays for last won a grand final in 1989 - the year he was born.
Despite that elusive goal remaining after another Ipswich competition season, Coulson-Futcher was delighted with the club's third Reserve Grade title in succession.
"We've been playing together for that long, it's really helped us build and create our structure of a team . . . it's nice to see,'' he said.
"We have a couple of very good senior heads in the team that really keep the team settled, and a lot of youth and a lot of young fellas coming through with a lot of pace.
"They really want to learn and they really want to play some men's hockey.''
But having played in the past three Wests' grand final victories, he said the latest one was the most nerve-racking.
"We've always had a really good contender every year and this year it's Easts,'' he said.
"They've really put it to us.''
With the scores locked at 1-1 in the third quarter, Wests went ahead after Lucas Alchin scored with 15 minutes to go.
However, Easts responded through captain Tim Woodford's goal to send the game into extra time.
Having been with Wests for 18 years, Coulson-Futcher netted his winner with 30 seconds left in the first period of extra time.
That came after the experience-rich Easts side provided another quality challenge.
"Two weeks ago, we played them in the major semi-final and it was the exact same scoreline,'' Coulson-Futcher said.
"They got the winning goal in overtime so it shows how tight it has been.''
Easts speedster Max Schulz was named player of the final.
Reserve Grade men's grand final: Wests 3 (Aaron Gotting, Lucas Alchin in regular time, Christian Coulson-Futcher in extra time) def Easts 2 (Chris Mantell, Tim Woodford).
Player of the final: Max Schulz (Easts).