U18 Nationals end, as new champs are crowned

2014 ALA U18 Girls' National Champions
2014 ALA U18 Girls' National Champions  
2014 ALA U18 Boys' National Champions
2014 ALA U18 Boys' National Champions  

A changing of the U18 national champions guard occurred today, with Victoria's long run of both boys and girls victories finally coming to an end. 

Coming into the day, the Victorian girls could only sit and watch their title leave their grasp to either WA or SA, while the Victorian boys had the opportunity for a title defence against WA. 

Prior to the finals, the playoffs for 3rd were played between the SA and NZ boys, and the Victorian and NZ girls. 

As both were effectively dead rubbers, the only thing left to play for was pride. 

For SA, a loss would have been demoralising, particularly after quite a poor tournament. 

However, fortunately for them no such thing happened. 

NZ looked tired from a long weekend of tough results and hard hitouts against much better opposition, going down 17-4. 

SA finished the tournament with a few highlights, including goalkeeper Lincoln Potter being named the All Star goalkeeper and MVP for the tournament. 

In the girls playoff match, a disappointed Victoria team looked to show why they deserved to be in the final, playing very intense, almost angry lacrosse. 

After an 8-0 first half, it was evident that these girls really wanted to make a point to the lacrosse community. 

NZ showed great spirit in the second half though, digging deep to almost snatch their first win of the tournament, falling short at the end losing 11-8. 

With the playoff matches out of the way, it was time for the finals, beginning with the girls, with SA playing WA. 

After needing to play overtime the day before to find a result, the game was set up to be a classic, and the girls didn't disappoint 

The two sides couldn't be separated for the first half of play, going goal for goal with neither team able to extend the lead significantly. 

After returning from the halftime break at 6-6, the story remained the same, each team scoring then conceding then repeating the process. 

As the game drew to an end, the final score was 11-11, resulting in an overtime period of play. 

SA managed to take the lead shortly before the halftime break of overtime, but concurrently they lost one of their best players, Eleanor Bishop, to a red card, meaning they had to finish the game a player down. 

A barrage of WA shots at the goal in the second half of overtime wasn't enough to get them over the line, SA ending Victoria's long run of success, becoming the new National Champions, winning 12-11.

SA coach Courtney Hobbs said that she was proud of how her girls overcame 'challenges'.

'I believed in the girls, and most importantly they believed in themselves.'

'They were able to dig deep through the challenges, especially right at the end of the final, and they came through in the end,' she said. 

Hobbs, who will enter her second contracted year as coach next year, is already looking forward to it.

'I expect even stronger performances next year,' she said. 

Following the exhilarating girls final, Victoria came up against WA, in a rematch of the 2013 final. 

Victoria entered the game with a slight mental edge over WA, having made a big comeback in their earlier game to win by 1 goal.

The game began very similarly to their previous game, with WA controlling possession and dominating the Vic's early on. 

Victoria's only saving grace in the first quarter was goalkeeper Luke Dobson, making the impossible look easy. And despite Dobson's efforts, WA still carried a 2-1 lead into quarter time. 

It was much of the same after the break, but now WA began to convert their opportunities, with the momentum definitely swinging their way. 

The scores 7-3 at half time, the same half time score as their previous encounter, murmurs went through the crowd about a possible repeat.

But WA weren't going to let that happen. 

In the aptly named premiership quarter, WA not only held, but extended their lead to five, thanks to a special around the back goal from Keegan Davies.

Victoria looked stunned, and were just not good enough to keep up with WA's intense pressure. 

The last quarter was merely time for WA to prepare their celebrations, easily accounting for Victoria 14-9, redeeming themselves for last year's loss. 

WA coach Glenn Morley said he was happy with how his team 'stuck to the game plan'.

'We were confident, and they went out there and exercised the game plan perfectly, and I couldn't really ask for much more,' he said. 

The tournament concluded with a function at the Bendigo Club, with State Minister for Sport and Recreation and member for the Northern Victoria Region, Damian Drum, speaking about lacrosse in Bendigo.

'We want to grow the importance of lacrosse in central Victoria.'

'It has an enormous impact on the local economy,' he said.

Bendigo will once again be in the thick of lacrosse action when it hosts round one of the State League Competition next weekend.

Results from final days action at the Under 18 National Championships in Bendigo:

Boys
SA 17 def. NZ 4
WA 14 def. Vic 9 

Girls
Vic 11 def. NZ 8
SA 12 def. WA 11 (overtime) 

 

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