Women’s 1st Grade won the 2015 SWHL Premiership by beating Briars 3-1 on Sunday, September 20 at Olympic Pitch.
It was an emphatic grand final victory for the unbeaten squad.
Led by retiring veteran captain Gillian Bennett, SUHC dominated the game. Current and previous SU Elite Program athletes Emma Scriven, Greta Hayes, Nina Khoury and Rachel Miller controlled the midfield and we were ruthless in front of goals. Maddy Rosser and Nicole Bartley made some penetrating runs. Em Jones became an unpassable brick wall in our goals and was arguably best on ground, making numerous excellent saves to keep Briars’ star-studded attacking line-up down to one solitary goal, and that from a well-worked short corner.
Sydney Uni scored from a short corner in the first 3 minutes, and always looked the better team. Over the next 30 minutes both teams created opportunities but were unable to capitalise. With minutes to go a rare SU mistake at the back gave Briars an opportunity to get to our Defence, and they earned a short corner which they converted. It may have been against the play but the 1-1 scoreline was still a fair reflection for a tough opening 35 minutes of hockey.
SU regrouped at halftime and came out firing. The next 35 minutes were simply a lesson in total hockey from the champion SU team. They continually broke down the Briars play in every part of the park. They dominated the midfield battles and caused numerous cracks to appear in the Briars defence. Rachel Miller banged home the 2nd goal from a short corner soon after the half began, and Nina scored our third goal soon after that. (That goal took Nina’s 1st grade tally for the season to 23, itself a noteworthy achievement). Sydney Uni relaxed a little in the last few minutes and Briars finally had the chance to mount some attacks, but it was all too late. Our team was just too good, and won a well-deserved Premiership 3-1.
It has been a extraordinary season for the team. They play in arguably one of the strongest club competition in Australia, and after 20 games they remained unbeaten. They won 5 more games and scored a 18 more goals than their nearest rival – almost a goal a game extra. They have now won 3 of the last 4, First Grade Premierships. Has there been a better Women’s 1st Grade team since a young Jessie Street captained our first Women’s team in 1908, some 107 years ago? The statistics say probably not.
It was a very fitting last match (for the time being, anyway) for several of Sydney Uni Hockey Club’s (SUHC) longest-serving players and coaches.
The 2015 Premiership flag means Coach, Ben Chiarella, has now taken the club to its third SWHL title in four years. Kate Johnston and Emma Scriven played together in the unbeaten 2015 Women’s 1st grade team, just as they played together in our 2001 Under 11 team.
Ben will be living and working in Orange next year, Kate is off to WA, and Emma will potentially be playing hockey in Europe. SUHC will be much the poorer for their absences.
Further, all of SUHC and its supporters congratulate retiring captain Gillian Bennett in particular on a magnificent final season and wish her all the best for the future. Gill is ending a long and decorated playing career with SUHC in order to head to UK to live and work.
We all thank them for their extraordinary contributions to the club for over 15 years.
Another addition to the trophy cabinet – congratulations to all involved. Go Uni!