After a run of disappointing single-goal losses to the top teams (often after leading), Men’s 1st grade is currently 6th on the SHA table. Despite the current mid-level ranking the season is a real positive, largely due to the dedication and skill of Coach Scott Barker, and team Manager Chris Laird. Scott was the HNSW Coach of the Year for 2014, and the squad benefit greatly from his knowledge and skills.
2015 challenges are easily stated: The team have not yet fielded the top team field due to a long run of niggling injuries and other issues (particularly for senior players), they have needed to rely much too heavily on a very young core group and on 2nd grade for extra players, and the perennial challenge of having to train at unfriendly hours and locations due to lack of infrastructure proves a test.
This team is more than meeting those challenges, though. The six or seven young players are already holding their own against Sydney’s best, and still improving. They could be the backbone of a great team for years to come. Goalie, Troy Rossiter, proves week after week that he is easily the best goalie in the competition. Other players are stepping up to the mark every game: Hayden Evans has regularly given Man of the Match performances in his perhaps unexpected role as the senior back. Tom Lobsey and Peter Kelly have always been inspirational forwards, and are now proving themselves to be good leaders as well. Sydney Uni has scored the third highest number of goals of any team in the competition, which highlights their ability.
Men’s 1st has a bye and then a hockey-free week coming up, so have every hope of fielding a full strength team for the rest of the season. This is a team that could and should make the finals for the second time in three years – and with a full team roster available it has a real chance of winning.