Thistles A-Grade women's coach and Hancocks A-Grade captain Sam Morgan. Picture: David Lems
Thistles A-Grade women's coach and Hancocks A-Grade captain Sam Morgan. Picture: David Lems

Winning captain accepts new women’s coaching challenge

AS a premiership-winning A-Grade captain, Sam Morgan is used to high intensity hockey and pressure situations.

However, the Thistles women's first grade mentor concedes his new role requires a different level of anticipation.

"It's a lot more stressful because you want to get out there, help out the team but you can't as much,'' Morgan said.

That situation is enhanced for Morgan taking over the coaching role from Hancocks teammate Jay Pavitt, who guided Thistles to last year's A-Grade grand final.

"I coached the Reserve Grade team last year but I got the call up this year to coach the A-Grade team after Jay had too much on this year,'' Morgan said.

"It's a lot to do at the end of the day but I'm enjoying it, something a bit different.''

The challenge for Morgan is helping Thistles at least make another grand final.

However, on early indications Morgan need not worry about how he's going.

His team's latest 2-1 victory over Swifts on Sunday night was a solid showing.

Leading 1-0 through a Talicia Canty goal in the second quarter, Thistles were tested with Swifts equalised after halftime through Lile Leneghan.

Last year's grand final captain Nicole Yearbury sealed the victory in the final quarter to give Thistles their second win of the season.

Yearbury continues to play an important role assisting co-captain and defender Tayla Madden.

"I'll rotate them week by week,'' Morgan said.

"Nicole captained last week.

"Tayla has been coming to training a lot more and Nicole has a lot more work on this year as well. But they are both still great leaders.''

Morgan is delighted to have regulars like representative goalkeeper Emily Witheyman-Crump and goal scoring speedster Talicia Canty in the side.

"They do win you games throughout the year,'' he said of the players who also have Brisbane duties.

"It's just giving them support and making sure we're not relying on them too much throughout the year.

"They are high quality players.''

Thistles had a first round draw before a bye and 3-2 victory over Easts.

As for going one better than teammate Pavitt did in making last year's grand final, Morgan smiled with clear intent.

"I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon for this year but he's built a good team and they are still improving,'' Morgan said.

"At the moment, it's just missing that connection.

"We don't get as many to training having a few that play in Brisbane and working at the moment so it makes things difficult.

"But hopefully as the season goes on, we'll only improve.

"There's plenty of good girls here, plenty of leaders as a well. A nice young side so hopefully we'll build throughout the year.

"The aim is to make the final and see how we go from there.''

The Thistles A-Grade women's hockey with coach Sam Morgan. Picture: David Lems
The Thistles A-Grade women's hockey with coach Sam Morgan. Picture: David Lems

Coaching an A-Grade women's side for the first time, Morgan appreciates the support from manager Sharon Pavitt and long-serving Thistles president Pauline Alchin.

"I don't think I'd be able to do it if I didn't have them there,'' he said.

"Sharon is my right-hand woman. I ask her for a little bit of advice throughout the games because she knows the girls quite well.''

The Thistles victory came after the Hancocks men beat Wests 4-0 on Saturday night.

Despite having six regular players out injured or sick and coach Sara Rogers on Queensland under-18 nationals duty, Hancocks maintained their positive start to the new season.

"We got looked after by Lachlan Kunde our manager and a lot of the boys stepped up,'' the captain said.

In the other A-Grade women's match, Hancocks beat Easts 5-1.

STATE OF PLAY

Women's and girls results April 9-11: A Grade - Hancock Brothers 5 (Natalie Davison 2, Layla Eleison, Genevieve Ferguson, Abby Eleison) d Easts 1 (Rachael Mantell); Thistles 2 (Nicole Yearbury, Talicia Canty) d Swifts 1 (Lile Lenaghan).

Reserve Grade: Norths 3 (S Parlett, E Bartlam, D Wenzel-Stephan) d Thistles 1 (K Roberts); Swifts 6 (K Dixon 3, L Doyle, C Dixon, K Lenaghan) d Easts 1 (T Doyle); Hancock Brothers 4 (L Willi 4) d Wests 0.

R2 Grade: Hancock Brothers 1 (K Nielson) d Bellbowrie Gold 0; Swifts 4 (T Floyde 2, P Wallace, J Richards) d Easts 0; Norths 4 d Bellbowrie Green 1.

A2 Grade: Vets 4 (K Pudwell 2, A Burt, G Martins) d Bellbowrie 3 (D Greenalsh 2, A McDougall); Thistles 6 (B Pavitt 3, A Brown, L Pearce, L Brown) d Hancock Brothers 1 (S Brown); Wests 5 (J Goetsch 2, S Lawrie, T Dixon, P Timperly) d Swifts 1 (C Harris).