Thrilling shootout: Ipswich likes new hockey concept
IPSWICH coaches Brent Nicholls and Brendan Eleison hope Queensland's Festival of Hockey becomes an annual event after watching their teams perform strongly over the long weekend.
The Ipswich men finished runners-up after a nail-biting shootout in the inaugural Premier League nine-a-side tournament at the Gold Coast.
Having been unbeaten going into today's final, Ipswich lost the shootout 4-1 to the home side after the pool A and B leaders were deadlocked at 0-0 after the first 30 minutes of play.
The Ipswich women earlier finished fifth after beating Gladstone 4-0 in their final match.
Despite the last-gasp defeat this afternoon, men's coach Nicholls was thrilled how his team performed. His players had limited experience in the nine-a-side format where two points are awarded for field goals and one point for successful penalty corners.
"They've come together really well and the main thing is they've enjoyed themselves,'' Nicholls said.
"They've played some good hockey.
"We had a fairly young fast group so it really suits the format.''
The Ipswich men qualified for the final after beating Gladstone 2-0 in today's classification game.
On the previous two days, the Ipswich men beat Toowoomba 4-2, Gladstone 10-3, Tweed 2-0 and Gold Coast 2-0. Ipswich drew 2-2 with a Hockey Queensland Invitational side before beating Tweed 2-1 a second time in the crossovers to secure a shot at the championship title.
Ryan Smith was among the tournament's top field goal scorers.
"The standard has been really good actually,'' Nicholls said, coaching nine-a-side for the first time.
"It's been a learning curve for everyone over the weekend but they've enjoyed the format. It's been good.''
Eleison also rated the three-day festival an enjoyable experience that promotes attacking hockey.
His team reached the playoff for fifth after a 4-0 loss to Brisbane in the classification game.
Ipswich earlier beat Gladstone 4-0 and Gold Coast 4-3, drew with Toowoomba 2-2, and had losses to Brisbane (2-0) and Tweed (4-2).
Tweed beat Brisbane 5-0 in the women's final.
"It's a different concept being nine-a-side,'' Eleison said.
"There's different rules and different strategies, different tactics you have to use.
"It's been a bit of a challenge for the girls but they have really enjoyed it because it is different.
"And then it's been a bit challenging for the coach and manager as well trying to keep ahead of the game.
"I certainly enjoyed it and the girls have given their all.''
Eleison said his senior players like Amy Nicholls, Sara Parlett and Sara Rogers led the way.
Younger players like Sophie Fynes-Clinton and Jessica Chaplin adjusted quickly to the new concept.
"It was like a test tournament,'' he said of the weekend festival. "But I think its certainly got its merits.
"I reckon if they just tweak a few little things, I think in the future it will become more popular and we'll have more stronger teams down here.''
Eleison said the Southport venue being used for next year's Commonwealth Games was "magnificent''.
"It's very new, the amenities are fantastic,'' he said. "You can see how it's going to be shaped for the Commonwealth Games.
"It was really good for the girls to come and play in this environment and experience it.
"It was a real positive weekend actually.''