Ipswich's vital role in wonderful national title double
IPSWICH'S dedicated and skilful hockey connection had an added reason to enjoy the Easter break after sharing in a wonderful Queensland sporting achievement.
Both Queensland under-18 teams won their national tournaments in Hobart just prior to the long weekend, completing a rare double triumph.
The Queensland teams included Ipswich-based players Jordn Office, Zac Profke, Matt West and Zac McCoombes.
International achiever Sara Rogers was assistant coach of the Queensland girls' combination, working closely with former Ipswich competition player and coach Lisa Morgan.
Norths' A-Grade coach Steve Profke was manager of the successful state boys' team.
The under-18 boys sealed the terrific double by outclassing Western Australia 7-1 in the grand final.
However, the under-18 girls were rewarded for their daring tactics, coming from 2-0 down with five minutes left to score the winning goal in the final seconds.
Rogers was thrilled with the stunning 3-2 comeback against NSW Blue, made possible by taking the goalkeeper off and adding an extra field player when trailing as time was running out.
"It was unheard of really,'' Rogers said of the dramatic finish at national level.
Rogers and head coach Morgan had played and worked together at Hancocks and Ipswich representative level in past seasons. But it was Rogers' first time as state under-18 assistant coach.
"We (Rogers and Morgan) both looked at each other and knew we had to chance our arm,'' Rogers said.
The ploy paid off with Queensland's next generation of hockey stars delivering a memorable victory.
Having also coached at Australian Country level, Rogers was proud to share in Queensland's latest success.
"I really enjoyed it,'' Rogers said. "It was good to see more of a high performance team, dealing with national league teams . . . and having to do some work with Hockey Queensland was good.''
Rogers still plays A-Grade in Ipswich and Division 1 in Brisbane while coaching the premiership-winning top grade men's team.
She was pleased to see 17-year-old Wests' A-Grade player Office also part of the young team of the future.
"She had a very good tournament,'' Rogers said of the striker.
The Queensland girls earlier beat NSW's number one side 4-0 in the semi-final after victories over Alliance 4-0, Tasmania 3-0, Victoria 1-0 and Western Australia 3-0. Their only lead-up loss was to NSW Blue 3-2 before avenging that defeat in the grand final.
After the Queensland girls won their fourth national title in five years, it was up to the state's under-18 boys to showcase their skills.
They did, winning the grand final comfortably.
Profke was in the leadership group and among the goal scorers in the Australian championships decider in Tasmania.
"It's another gold medal so I'm more than happy with that,'' Profke said.
It was the exciting prospect's sixth gold medal for state teams at club or school level since under-12.
After a 1-0 defeat in their first game, the Queensland boys built some impressive winning momentum. That included an 11-0 win over Alliance and a 13-2 victory over the ACT.
"We had a close loss to Victoria and from there just kept going up,'' Profke said, finishing the tournament with five goals from seven games playing a marking defender's role.
Profke, 17, said it was satisfying sharing the latest national title with Ipswich-based goalkeeper West and midfielder McCoombes.
McCoombes, 16, scored two goals from seven games.
West, 16, represented Queensland in five matches.
While Profke rests a sore ankle, the rest of the Ipswich connection are expected to return to club duties this weekend before preparing for next month's Super League tournament.