Shoot-out Shenanigans!

What a week of hockey.

Finals time = pom poms!

The comparisons between Brunswick’s Men’s VL1 team and the Women’s Masters team are endless.  Hot on the heels of the men’s prelim final win over West Vic, the women’s masters, aka grannies, stepped out midweek on a very cold Wednesday night for their prelim game against Geelong.  In what is getting to be a little predictable I turned up in time to watch the previous game go to a shoot-out.

I provided exceptionally useful commentary throughout in particular noting to others on what the ‘keeper was doing.   Shoot-outs have gone from being something that favoured the attacker to something that now requires the attacker to out-wit the keeper, with the keeper now being the dominant player in the challenge (should they realise this). If a keeper is up for the challenge then as an attacker, no plan = no goal.

So useful were my insights Marissa added “I love the luminescence of Powerhouse’s socks. I’ll stop talking now. Blog fodder.”

Too right.

Taking our places on the sideline for our game, I got a stern talking to from Janet W.  I explained that NO I wasn’t playing, I was under strict orders to wait until cleared by a doctor to be able to attempt contact sport again, but YES I was in my kit because as long as I didn’t do any contact, I could still be on the team sheet SHOULD the game go to a penalty shoot-out.

Not exactly what the medical opinion was but it was most I have admitted defeat to an injury situation.

Cunningly, Geelong’s strong centre half was missing from proceedings, and the game plan I imparted to Kylie went from “Closely mark Bash, put her under pressure” to “Oh ok, she’s not playing, just do your thing.”

And that was exactly what the girls did.  We got off to the best start, which was total opposite of what we had done against Greensborough the previous week in the qualifying final. Out of the blocks incredibly quickly Eloise sprinted down the left wing with the ball and Geelong mis-timed their clearance and gave away a penalty corner.  Geelong then ran out too fast from the PC, so had one player sent back to the half-way line.  Sadly, we couldn’t execute but it showed we were ready to bring the game to G-town.

Note to self: talk to the attacking PC unit about how to set up if a defending player gets sent back to the half-way line. Don’t attempt a straight shot, that’s not making the most of the shortage of defenders – the #1 runner is typically always still the #1 runner.

That’s my coaching advice done. For now.

G-town then stepped up the attack, and we had a few panicky moments in our defensive D towards the end of the first half.  Despite this, the goal was tightly defended and it was 0-0 at half time.

Second half, I decided to ‘warm up’ – this is a way to run the side-line whilst constantly talking and shouting instructions at the team.  Encouraged by the crowd (well, ok, just Lloyd) to do this I started to be more vocal. The team stepped up their attacks and more half chances went our way, with Lynnie and Ceitlin attempting the Lachie-Toma (formally the Max Toma but with the VL1 prelim win on the previous Sunday I have renamed it).  Sadly, no chocolates.

Geelong also stepped up their breakaway attacks. Marissa, Kerith with Dayle constantly talking, were outstanding and somehow, in their typical style, managed to get almost certain goals off the goalline and out of danger.  I don’t know how it was done.

Two minutes to go.  It was still nil-all.  I stared into the night and into the unbelievableness of the situation that appeared to be unfolding.  Reluctantly I started to remove my many layers (it was freezing), and my gloves and did some serious jogging up and down the sideline.  Remembering that a shoot-out also involved a stick and ball, and not just jogging about, I took a ball, grabbed my stick, and started tap-tap-tapping away in the corner.  My hits were bad, it was cold, but my toma was ok.  Slapping, well that’s irrelevant.  Touch on the ball, that seemed ok.

The final whistle went and Brunswick re-grouped.  Coach Tony, ever prepared, already had his list of 5, and some of us had even practiced in the previous weeks.  Dayle, the ‘keeper, most certainly had.  My confidence in her never wavered – we could barely get any goals past her in a shoot-out situations.  Conscious that I could still accidentally collide with the keeper or even just fall over, I asked if I could go #5.  I was hoping it would have been done by then so I wouldn’t upset the physio too much.

Ceitlin, Lynnie, Kylie and Sally dutifully stepped into the remaining places.  Kylie was playing with a broken thumb, not that she realised it at the time, and despite the freezing conditions she was icing it as much as she could.  We won the toss, Dayle chose to attack first.

Shoot-out followed shoot-out. Dayle was immense.  Four have gone from both sides and after what must have been close to nearly 80 minutes since the start of the game, the score was STILL 0-0.

Enter me.

Now I’m not an arrogant sort, at least if I appear to be it’s in jest. I lack confidence at the best of times. And here I am, with not having played a single second of the match, stepping up on a cold night to have a go at a shoot-out. The last player standing before sudden death.

I had watched Geelong’s keeper for the previous four, she seemed to come off her goal line but then hesitate, and wait for the move, not looking too mobile on her feet.  Yet she had saved four.  No one from either team had attempted a hit from the top. It was also the only thing I was supposed to even attempt.  Ceitlin encouraged me to do it; “aim for the left post.”

I was aiming for the goal itself, stuff aiming for a post. My hit is the weakest part of the game, I had barely done a warm up, but I had to try.

ALL THESE THOUGHTS. Literally. I wanted to get swallowed up. I was so focused, by the time I lined up to go and the umpire said “striker ready?” I forgot to reply and wondered why it was so quiet.

Whistle. Off.

Reader, it took less than 8 seconds, 6 metres and 3 touches of the ball for me to run in, hit it through the keeper’s legs, as she hopped about and fell over. And Slam. Backboard. Goal.

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It just left Pac Man Jones (Dayle to most of us) to do what she had done all game – dominate, and gobble up the last shooter from Geelong. And Brunswick were through to their second grand final in two years!

Amazing scenes followed. It was a complete team of heroes on the night, and I’m glad I was able to contribute in a small way.  As Lynnie said, apparently, as I was running into the D: “She owes us.” Pretty sure Dayle and I will be on a high from that game for a long, long time.

And I even managed to try out my mudlark outfit made from stuff I got from Woolworths. Plastic gloves for feet is my fave

Bring on Sunday! And to the Men’s VL1 grand final, against KBH Brumbies – their season-long rival and victors of the qualifying final. Ironically, I was out at the Brumbies ground at 8am Sunday for masters state training, and their new facilities are looking impressive, but that was exciting as it got.

Back to the SHC and the final did not disappoint.  A magnificent effort midweek to rally the troops had been done on facebook, complete with player bios, and there was an excellent support crew who had made their way down from Sydney Road in their black and white finery to cheer on the team.  Brumbies scored very early on, and as someone commented in the pub later on, it was as it happened in a dream, all very slowly.

Still in the game, Brunswick got themselves on the scoreboard in the eleventh minute with an amazing move, set up and finished by Terry – from the half way line-ish he picked up the ball, tracked right and then moved the ball down the right-hand side of the field (from memory….).  Moving to the top of the D the ball then makes its way to him, and with back to goal the ball is tapped to his right-hand side, swing and TOMA GOAL!!! Stunning way to equalise.  I told him the pub later that for me, that build up and goal resulted in a best on ground performance, and he seemed happy enough with that, as if my opinion on counted for anything (well, it gets a blog mention).

And now, I have to re-name the Max Toma Goal to the Lachie Toma Goal to a Terry Toma Goal.

Much like the prelim final and NOT the qualifying final, the umpires do not set out to find faults in Brunswick and play a fair and even game. Brumbies even got a green card in the first half. No cards to Brunswick at this stage. But, almost against the run of play, Brumbies then got a pretty good deflection goal in just as half-time approached… not a good time from a game momentum perspective to let the opposition score

Second half and Brunswick press more and more.  An equaliser felt like it was on the cards, but it just didn’t materialise.  For a while at any rate.  Ten minutes left on the clock and Brunswick won a PC. The drag flick was excellently saved, although having said that, it was at the height of the GK’s hand.  A second PC is then given to Brunswick.  I wondered if they would try and R1 option, given that’s how they had got their goal against Brumbies two weeks ago.

Or would they try the drag flick again?

It was the drag flick again option that they went for – and this time it was levelled low and it sped right into the bottom left hand corner! Goal to Brunswick!

Four minutes later in what has to be the biggest piece of karma witnessed in their finals series, the Brumbies player who had clapped off Max’s sending off two weeks earlier, was yellow carded. The game was pretty much over for him as he sat with the tech bench.  I hope he enjoyed the stay.

Final whistle goes, with both sides unable to break the deadlock in a frantic few final minutes.

ANOTHER shoot-out.  The nerves are killing me, and likely the entire crowd.

It was an incredible sequence of shoots. Brunswick went miss-goal-goal-goal-miss. Brumbies went miss-miss-goal-goal-goal.  So actually in the last three shoots, Brunswick could have won it, and with it now going to sudden death I wondered if this was another momentum swing back to the Brumbies.

Not if Brunswick were going to have any say. GK is not fooled by the Brumbies’ top goal scorer and it is saved, and cleared. Up steps drag-flick-equaliser Campbell Ashton who runs in, does the back to goalie swivel but the ball got stuck under the keeper’s pads and he’s unable to fetch it out! (Actually a similar thing nearly happened with the first batch of shoot outs, but in that one he retrieved the ball and scored). However, the umpire blows for a PC due to a hidden ball under pads situation and Ashton sets off again.  Tries the same move… and having clearly rounded the keeper and faced with the open goal makes no mistake.

Scores. Chaos. Cheers. Crowd on the pitch. And Premiership to Brunswick.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win from a penalty shoot-out. Either go the masters’ way or the men’s way, but both are effective.

With the women’s masters playing their GF on Wednesday, however, may I propose a little less shoot-out and a bit more “win in normal time” action?  I’m currently two from two and I’d like to leave my record in tact.  And I’d like to have an impact on the game in the actual game itself too.

BRING IT ON BRUNSWICK!! Let’s fire up for the granny granny, and continue with the final parallel with the men’s VL1 team.  Time for a flag.  SHC, 7.15pm Wednesday night, Brunswick v Greensborough. 1 v 2. Let’s do this.

BRUNSWICK WOMEN’S MASTERS (OF THE UNIVERSE) BIOS

Yes, I am unashamedly copying the Men VL1’s facebook pre-game previews, but what works for them might just well work for us.  Here you go, may I please introduce:

The Goalies

Dayle: also known as Pac Man Jones, Dayle played the game of her life in the preliminary final, not only keeping a clean sheet for the entire match but also for the penalty shoot out. She absolutely gobbled up Geelong, displayed nerves of steel and totally dominated. At State Masters training on Sunday one of the Geelong girls (and Rachel’s room mate for the upcoming Nationals championship which could be awkward) asked “I need tips for a shoot-out. I did one on Wednesday and the keeper made it really hard for me, I had absolutely no idea what to do.”

Look out for: skeletons, calling and positivity

Loz: It’s hard enough at some clubs to find one goalie; Brunswick masters have been lucky enough to have two. Interchanging throughout the season it’s been seamless for the team on the field, Lauren has matched Dayle for awesomeness, and has had some absolute cracker matches with many a critical save keeping the team in the game. The away game in Geelong, round 18 when none of us wanted to be there, she was easily best on ground and deserved the votes she got. Club stalwart despite only recently learning the hockey goalie ropes.

Look out for: her. She’ll be there. Whether playing or not she is always supporting us.

The Full Backs

Kerith: It’s not often you say “every hockey team needs an Olga Korbut” but thankfully we don’t need to say it at Brunswick because we have one. Found lurking as the up-back, Kerith’s determined tackles have stopped many an opposition’s breakaway, and in the D she literally puts her body on the line to stop any possible hockey goal. Always plays with humour, watch out if the umpires decide she hasn’t put the ball on the EXACT BLADE OF GRASS for a free hit.

Look out for: tackling on her knees, back flips

Marissa: The quality of Marissa’s hockey goes well beyond granny-land. Appearing in not one team’s vote-count top-four, but TWO, Marissa plays weekend metro hockey as well and provides any team with incredible, reliable defending and puts fear into opposing teams as she steps up to take free hits. She reads the game amazingly and complements Kerith’s up-back-ability, by shadowing around sweeper-style to mop up anything that gets through.

Look out for: the hits and off the field eloquence

Janet W: Janet really could be classed as a Utility player. She will play full back, half or even wing, she surprises the team by popping up and showing off her versatility wherever she goes. As a full-back she is consistent, and shows her experience with her excellent calling and encouragement. Woe betide anyone who even thinks about playing without a medical certificate following concussion; her nursiness will put that notion back in the box.

Look out for: versatility, calling and role as team-carer.

The Halves

Brenda: Also could also be listed as a utility player, Right Half is the usual home for Brenda and her tireless running up and down the field. During the 2017 season her confidence down the right hand flank has grown, not just in her defensive game but also in the attacking 25 where crucial passes have resulted in goals and PCs. Highlight of 2017 came out at Greensborough where she played an outstanding game at left wing, outrunning both teams to pick up the ball and send in cross-of-the-season.

Look out for: non-stop running and surprising goal-creation seemingly from nothing.

Rachel: Brunswick’s Centre Half and Bridget Jones representative, Rachel is the one to be found getting a puncture on the way to a grand final, getting stuck in a lift at work whilst on the way to training, falling over, spewing behind goals, and keeping the physio industry in Victoria alive and well. Recovering from a patellofemoral injury, broken foot and three head-knocks during the season, don’t expect much from her in the grand final – she peaked with a token shoot-out effort in the prelim final.

Look out for: ribbons, collisions, attempted over-heads and attempted Terry-Tomas. In short: duck. Also look out for: falling ANZ share price. Not much work is getting done today.

Bronwyn: the coach is brave enough to put two Scorpios next to each other on the half line but this has not deterred either Bron or Rachel who keep their intensity under control on the pitch. As committed a Left Half as there will ever be, Bronny’s strength is in her non-stop tackles and ability to win free-hits all the way up the left hand side of the field. Getting more attacking during the season, she is likely to soon sniff out a goal running into the D and slamming home the ball into the back of the net. Don’t be surprised to see her at right-half also, where she has had a couple of amazing appearances during the season, including round 18 out at Geelong.

Look out for: amazing tackles running out on defensive PCs, and the ball-over-stick-jinks up the left hand flank.

The Utilities

Ann: There are simply not enough words to describe Ann Maree Claire Bridget Lennie. Just as well, if there were she would be sure to use them all up. At home as a full-back, half or wing (even goalie) she might surprise us all with an appearance as inner on grand-final day. Her priorities are hockey and family, to the extent that last year she skipped Hockey Victoria’s awards night where she was to receive her lifetime membership award to play in the Masters grand final. Last week she skipped wedding anniversary celebrations to play in the prelim final. Just as well her husband is the coach.

Look out for: long, long hits stretching the opposition and Brunswick’s leg speed to the max, and a hockey story for any occasion.

Kylie: Quiet but incredibly effective Kylie has snuck into the winter team this year by stealth, and has had an amazing impact on the team either on the half line or as an inner. Never one to usually complain she broke with rank in the qualifying final by disputing an umpire decision surprising her team-mates with her rage and fury (relatively speaking). She bravely played out the prelim final with a broken thumb, which is now in a giant splint making a possible grand final appearance to be in doubt. If there is a way to make it onto the turf, she will find it.

Look out for: goals, running, skills… and the thermos and peppermint tea.

Fitzy: Also apparently goes by the name of Kate, Fitzy – or Foxy – mainly plays inner but has recently re-branded and branched out into wing-land. She has had some fantastic performances this year, often in tagging-crucial-player situations – highlight being the away match at Greensborough. Expect something similar this week, the team needs her back to full health following ‘flu.

Look out for: henna, chit chat, bucket-loads of humour, and constant running.

Eloise: Brunswick’s number 1 draft pick for 2017 has not disappointed. She felt at home from the first game she played, when presented with a slice of lemon for a post-game Corona. Comfortable at half or wing, she is very strong on the ball and very fast on the pitch and creates many opportunities down the left-hand side of the field. A massive find for the club, she has been an awesome addition to the team.

Look out for: PC-creation in the first 20 seconds of the game, and post-match ballerina stretches.

Jo: Sunning herself in Greece it is unlikely Jo will be able to make the grand final, however she has played a critical role in the successful granny season. She will play any position she’s put in, and one of her season highlights was the assist-pass to Happy Lynnie Gilmour’s following a beautiful passing move up the field in one home game. Not one to shy back from providing opinions or thoughts on anything, she will be missed in the final but instead be on the end of a phone wanting updates.

Look out for: photos from the Mediterranean.

The Inner Centre Strike Force

Lynnie: the team’s Happy Gilmore has hit 15 goals this season, not a bad effort for an inner… one might think that maybe she should be an out-and-out striker? But that would leave us without our left midfield, and the running, the calling (“sticks down!”), the faces pulled at the umpires… and the cracking balls hit up the field and across the D. Wherever the ball is, Lynnie is not far behind chasing it down.

Look out for: Rachel calling Lynnie back into position. Lynnie’s body and facial expressions along the lines of “what was that for, ump?” Dancing into the early hours if the team wins… as she doesn’t have to work on Thursday.

Ceitlin: “Sorry, not sorry” Ceitlin has found that playing VL1 and Masters is simply not enough hockey and during the season she has taken on the Women’s Selector role too. Amazingly to think that despite all this she plays a very different masters game to her VL game – a half for VL she has dominated the season as centre forward for masters AND got goals. A massive 15 to boot. She will carry the ball miles up the field and fearlessly take on any defence. And score from impossible angles.

Look out for: creating opportunities running the ball out of defence creating goal shots. And picking the ball up over the back-line for long corners – something the team on the whole is not particularly good at…

Sally: Given the nickname Second-Half Sally from repeated second-half appearances during the season for prioritising her children over hockey. When husband Mark returns from work there is none quicker than Sally to get to a game. And the team are so grateful for that, her speed and zip surprise oppositions, particularly in the second half when everybody is feeling jaded and focusing on post-match beers.

Look out for: looking too young to play masters hockey, the speed, the smile and a British joke shared with Rachel.

The Wings

Grace: not to be outdone by her speedy sporty daughters it is believed Grace has actually won more hockey medals than either Kate or Lucy combined in the last year. That is, she has one and they have none. Grace has an uncanny ability to find the space when she’s on the wing for the long balls through, and her stick-on-ball game sees her get through defence with strength and determination. Reliable on the post, the team will look for her to sneak in the sneaky goals when Greensborough aren’t looking on Wednesday.

Look out for: sneaking leads on the base-line, sneaking goals in from the post, baked goodies.

Claudia: Almost as famous for not being at a game as being at a game, the team let Claudia down in the first fixture against Greensborough earlier in the year by forgetting to pick her up. The improvement in Claudia’s hockey over the last year, when she honed her craft during the summer season, was noticeable and she has been rewarded for a goal this season as a result.

Look out for: Claudia possibly not playing in the hoodie if it’s warm enough, and for those spins on the wing that will be the undoing of the defence

Janet WK: Regrettably sitting out the finals series and end of season thanks to a thumb break (done when tripping over a mis-placed box in her home) JWK has nonetheless been a supporter on the sidelines for many matches in the cold, despite being unable to take to the field. When she has played, she notched up 6 goals in 8 games and hit an amazing run of form at the start of the season, challenging Ceitlin and Lynnie at the time for the highest goal scorer.

Look out for: when she’s on the field – her speed and goals-per-game record. On the side line, her positivity, smile and constant cheering.

Coach Tony: What to say about Coach Tones? Other teams looked stunned when we turn up with a coach, but he’s been doing the gig for years with incredible commitment, heart and Brunswick loyalty. The team never quite realised how big his job was until the time when he displayed a lack of commitment and a lack of loyalty by missing three games during the season by disappearing on holiday with Utility Ann (his wife, this wasn’t an elopement). The whinging the team had to put up with from Temporary Coach Lynnie was almost unbearable and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Coach Tony returned. (Claudia would never have been left behind if Coach Tony was in charge…)

Look out for: The T-shirt and the inspirational pre-game chat: “the aim of today is to get more goals than the opposition.”

The Support Crew

John: It’s likely going to be a warmish night Wednesday night, just as well John has spent all season preparing for it by supporting Marissa and team wearing shorts in all weathers (aside from Werribee and Geelong, understandably). Consistent, responsible, reliable, with no vote slips to hand out after the game this week he’ll need to find a new team-job to do; early requests suggest getting in a round of beers would be much appreciated.

Alana: the one making the team feel the cold by turning up to support Mum Loz and the team in general by wearing the warmest Kathmandu jacket known to exist. Also the team camera-video-woman, she will hopefully capture some grand-final winning moments ready for the internet to take to viral-status.

Lesley: Down as a possible to play during the season it is understood Lesley actually did turn up for one game as a supporter. Sadly work has meant she has not been able to commit to the turf, but committed on e-mail she absolutely is and no matter what the game is she is there offering support from afar. Despite not playing she is very much a member of the Brunswick granny family, even if it is mostly a virtual one. And when she can turn up, she brings the team wine and chips and dip. What more can you possibly ask for.

Look out for: an e-mail of support and virtual attendance

Lennie/Kermonde: Frankly it wouldn’t be a Brunswick hockey match if there wasn’t a Lennie or Kermonde appearance on the side line – aside from player and coach of course. We have had various family members appear during the season, and it will likely be Lloyd of “Max’s Dad” fame in the crowd on Wednesday. From having umpired one game, to telling Rachel to “provide more cheering” during the prelim match, he is vying for the role of team’s Chief Tactician… having also provided Rachel with more advice in the pub Sunday night following the men’s VL1 win.

The Brunswick Flag: the chequered flag at Brunswick has represented yet again during the 2017 finals series. Usually attached to Maria it will be seen high above everybody else so as not to block views. It will only be put down when Maria sees fit at a particular point in the match (typically shoot-outs) to take notes.

Reminder:

Grand Final Brunswick v Yesterday’s Heros [sic]
7.15pm S-1 Wednesday 20th September

Brave Souls. The bums of the frozen shooters; Kylie, Ceitlin, Lynnie, Me, Sally

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