IT took two goals in three minutes for Kelso to avoid an upset loss against St Pat’s in the Bathurst Women’s Hockey Association first grade preliminary final on Saturday.
While Kelso eventually emerged 2-1 victors to join Waratahs in the grand final, the Saints pushed them all the way.
“I was very nervous, exceptionally nervous,” Kelso coach Maureen Markwick said.
“We’ve lost key players, losing Grace [Schumacher] and Tirah [Jarvis] during the season, so we’ve had a bit of plateau towards the end.
“But I think the girls came out and showed a lot of character.
“We got it back to one-all and then yes, we scored again straight away and it was a beautiful goal, a deflection by Elmo [Emma Oxley].
“Ten points to the girls, they came back. I think having Jade [Te Weehi] back this week has been a big advantage to us and she played really well.”
The Saints went into the match as the underdogs given they had won just one of five clashes with Kelso during the regular season.
In three of those games Kelso had kept a clean sheet as well, the green and whites having finished 10 points clear of any other side in the race to the minor premiership.
Yet it was the Saints who enjoyed the better of the attacking opportunities in the opening half at Bob Roach Field.
They earned the first penalty corner of the match in the ninth minute, with Kristy Ekert denied by a good glove save from Kelso goalkeeper Maddy Tattersall.
The custodian also made a top one-on-one save nine out from half-time when Ruby Clarke got in behind the Kelso defence, while defender Anna Cartwright cleared a Lucy Harvey shot off the line.
Four minutes out from the break the Saints’ attacking pressure was finally rewarded when Sophie Conroy slotted in a penalty corner attempt.
Five minutes after play resumed Kelso created a half chance when Te Weehi released Bec Bosinaek, but the talented striker was shut down by scrambling Saints defence.
The blue and whites continued to push, Harvey hitting the post, while Tattersall made a smart block to deny Ella Davis.
But with 11 minutes remaining, the momentum turned.
Bosinaek was brought down in the circle to draw a penalty stroke, which she then sent into the top left corner to lock the game up at 1-all.
Three minutes later Kelso attacked down the right wing and an Oxley deflection was on target to make it 2-1.
St Pat’s had just under eight minutes to find an equaliser, but Kelso held on.