Norths major threat for finals
IT must be hockey finals time. Norths are on the rise.
As the smile on the face of Norths goal scorer Morgan Leeder highlighted, the Devils are a major threat.
It's a regular situation in senior hockey at this time of the year.
Leeder, 25, scored the only goal in her fourth-placed team's victory on Saturday night, eliminating Swifts/Thistles from this year's Ipswich competition finals.
Leeder's fourth goal of the season was her "personal best'' and came at the perfect time.
"It's pretty good. Being rewarded was pretty good,'' Leeder said.
Scoring with a wet hockey stick made it more satisfying.
The match was played in challenging conditions, with rain falling throughout the game, creating pools of water.
The women's A-grade win was significant, adding to Norths' A-grade and Reserve grade men's sides, who won extra-time thrillers.
After clawing back to 3-2, Norths Reserve graders forced extra time with a goal in the last 15 seconds of regular play.
Norths and Easts remained deadlocked 3-3 after 10 minutes of sudden death extra time before the Devils finally won 4-3 in penalty shoot-outs. That period of play went the distance before a critical save by Norths goalkeeper Mark Davidson completed a remarkable recovery.
Norths will play Wests in Sunday's Reserve grade preliminary final.
The Norths A-grade side qualified for another grand final after outlasting minor premiers Hancock Brothers on Sunday.
Norths won 4-3 in shoot-outs after the scores were deadlocked 4-4 after regular time.
With the Devils having a week off, Hancocks will meet Easts in Sunday night's A-grade preliminary final.
The Norths women also face minor premiers Hancocks in their preliminary final. Wests advanced directly to the A-grade women's decider after beating Hancocks 4-1.
For stand-in Norths A-grade coach and long-time club supporter Jamie Burns, the women's win was especially pleasing in the tricky conditions.
"Didn't it start coming down. Look at it now,'' Burns said looking out over the main field with heavy rain still falling.
"The girls toughed it out. I said to them before the game if they play 70 minutes, they'll be going well. That's what we've been working on.''
Burns took over the team recently after former coach and ex-A-grade teammate Tony Ross went travelling.
"They've always had it (an ability to win),'' the experienced coach said. "I made a couple of changes to the line-up and they seemed to settle a little bit more.''
Burns enjoyed premiership success during five years coaching the A-grade men. But it's his first time working with the club's top grade women.
"I'm actually enjoying it. It's something different,'' he said.
"I believe they can win it if they put their heads together.''
Blair year one school teacher Leeder slammed home her 49th minute goal as water started to pool in the middle of the field.
"It was really hard,'' the right half said of the conditions. "The ball wouldn't move at all.
"All I was thinking was hold the ball.''