BATHURST City’s mentality going into the start of the women’s Premier League Hockey finals is clear: ‘We’re on the summit and it’s up to everyone else to try and knock us down’.
City go into their major semi-final against regular post-season rivals Lithgow Panthers with a different vibe among the team compared to the past few seasons, according to coach Lisa Quinn.
“I think the difference is that this year we’re the minor premiers and it’s up to Panthers to try and take the title off us,” she said.
“Last year we felt like we were fighting with nothing to lose. Now we feel like if we were to lose that we’ve given the chance away. Everyone feels that this is our year and we’re playing to keep what we believe is ours to lose.
“The last two years of finals have really hurt us and we don’t want to go down for a third time like that. Last time we were the underdogs who felt like we had a chance but now Lithgow will feel that way.”
That positive mentality from the Bathurst club is easy to understand, given City’s strong run of results across 2017.
City’s only loss to date was a 3-2 score against cross city rivals St Pat’s in round eight, and they maintain an unbeaten record against the Panthers.
A 4-1 victory at home was followed up by a 3-all draw at Lithgow against the two-time defending premiers.
“We beat them earlier in the year and although we had a draw in the second game we had some players away for that game,” Quinn said.
“Now both teams will have Country NSW players away for this game, which will be interesting. We’ve had a bit of an up and down season with our player numbers, and that’s been the case week in and week out.
“But because that’s been a consistent thing our players are used to it.”
Along with Country NSW absentees Maddie Tattersall and Kelsey Willott City will also be missing Tirah Jarvis for the remainder of the finals series with a knee injury.
It’s not all bad news for City as they welcome Brooke McFadden back into the team, along with Anna Cartwright who has returned from injury.
City are out to maintain a similar brand of hockey they’ve produced over the month leading up to finals.
It’s up to Panthers to try and take the title off us.
Quinn is hopeful last round’s narrow 2-1 success over Parkes United is an outlier in an otherwise positive preparation.
“Other than last week’s game we’ve had three good games leading up to this,” she said.
“There was a lot of lessons learned from last week, but we do seem to play a little better when we’re at home and hopefully that continues.
“Lithgow still play a fit and fast brand of hockey, they’re well structured, have maturity in defence and they know how to score goals.
“We’ve changed our system over the last two years and it’s been working very well for us when we’ve played against Lithgow.”
City and Panthers start their match at 1pm.