BEWARE a wounded rival.
That was the case for Sarah Watterson and her New South Wales team-mates on Friday as they were crowned the Hockey Australia Under 21 Women’s Indoor National champions.
After missing out in the semi-final against Victoria the previous evening in Goulburn, NSW crushed that same side 6-1 in the gold medal match.
“I think we turned up to win, we wanted it, we were after it today,” Watterson said.
“It was amazing, especially because they got rid of their goalie early on, so they played six players on the field and played quite aggressively.
“Last night we played a bit too much as individuals, but we gathered as a team, we had a great dinner and that gave us back that focus.”
Bathurst talent Watterson was amongst the players who scored for NSW in the grand final, finding the mark in the 29th minute.
It capped off a good week for Watterson, who ranked sixth on the tournament’s leading scorers’ table.
The win marked her third national under 21s indoor title, having been a member of the successful 2016 and 2017 teams as well.
“It’s my last one with this group, so it was a great way to finish it off,” she said.
“I think this one is the greatest because it’s my last year. It’s high up there and it was just such a great bunch of girls to play with as well.
“It’s so exciting and I’m just really proud of all the girls.”
Her NSW side lost just one of seven games, conceding only seven times across those matches, while their tally of 37 tournament goals was 13 better than any other side.
The only blemish came on Thursday night when NSW met Victoria in the first semi-final, Watterson and her team-mates missing the direct path to the gold medal match which was on offer.
Victoria posted a 2-1 win on the back of a Jessica Brennan double.
It was a result which saw NSW facing Western Australia in Friday morning’s preliminary final, a game they needed to win to get another crack at Victoria.
NSW had beaten Western Australia by five goals earlier in the week and once again proved too strong in the gold medal qualifier, this time posting a 6-0 result.
Watterson was amongst the NSW players to find the mark, scoring from a penalty corner in the 13th minute then adding a field goal three minutes from full-time.
It took her tally of goals for the tournament to five and more importantly, helped her side earn a shot at glory.
It was a chance they seized.
In the grand final NSW opened scoring in the 10th minute and struck again a minute later from a penalty corner.
Skipper, Orange’s Rachel Divall, added another before half-time to have NSW in a strong position at 3-0.
From there the host state went on with the job, Watterson’s field goal one of three in the second 20-minute period.
Victoria managed a consolation from a penalty corner in the final play of the match, but it was NSW who celebrated after the final whistle.