LITHGOW Panthers had Hannah Kable to thank after it advanced to its seventh consecutive women’s Premier League Hockey grand final on Saturday.
It was her goal with two minutes, five seconds left on the clock that handed Panthers a 3-2 win over St Pat’s at Bob Roach Field.
Kable had been a threat all match, especially down the left flank in the opening 20 minutes, and her goal handed the Saints just their second loss of 2018.
“It was a bloody good game of hockey,” Panthers coach Dave Marshall said.
“The first 10-15 minutes of the second half I was a bit worried to be honest. They came out really on top of us.
“But we started to get a bit of momentum back and yeah, it was a real dog-fight at the end. It was a good win, I’m stoked.”
Marshall praised the efforts of Kable and said he was pleased with the fight his whole side showed.
“She [Kable] was everywhere on the field, she doesn’t stop running, she’s passionate,” he said.
“It was a bit of a change to the way we played today, we got lost for periods and forgot what we were doing, but then we came back. It was great.”
Still, the Saints showed plenty of fight after a nervous start to the contest as they had come from a goal behind to lead 2-1.
It was a lead they held until the final 10 minutes of the contest – not long after the experienced Amy Glenn had left the field with a bleeding head wound caused by a stray stick.
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“I do think we were all rattled when Glenda [Glenn] went off injured, it did hurt our momentum. It was definitely us moving forward, but that happened and we had to regroup,” Saints’ Julie Hanman said.
“That last goal of theirs was a lucky goal, I mean we saved it three times but it just bobbled in their favour. That happens.
“But hey, we do things better the hard way.”
It was Clare Bosman who gave Panthers the lead with just a tick over two minutes of the grand final qualifier gone. She pounced on the loose ball after Kable had been denied by a smart sliding save from Pat’s goalkeeper Lilli-Rai Campbell.
Panthers continued to pressure as Kable sparked raid after raid, but with Campbell working hard plus Jodi Webb, Lucy Weal and Kirralee Naylor making strong tackles, the Saints settled.
Campbell’s 15th minute one-on-one save to deny Mackenzie Stewart was particularly impressive.
Sarah Watterson created some half chances for the Saints, while it took some brilliance from Panthers goalkeeper Jess Luchetti to deny Mish Somers in a one-on-one.
Two minutes into the second half Pat’s was back on level terms when a Watterson deflection found the mark during a short corner play.
Then Somers – off the Saints’ sixth penalty corner – blasted home in the 49th minute to give Pat’s a 2-1 lead.
The Saints had momentum and looked headed for the win.
But experienced Panther Amanda Saladine found an equaliser with 10 minutes left.
She beat Pat’s goalkeeper Tracey Gunning on the left and while Naylor very nearly cleared the ball off the line as she chased back in cover, the shot had enough power to deflect off her stick into the goal.
Kable then struck from a late penalty corner play to see her side advance to the grand final. St Pat’s must beat CYMS in the preliminary final in order to join Panthers.
“We were nervous, there was a lot of nervous energy today,” Hanman admitted.
“In the first half we had a couple of shots we should have done better with, should have done more with, but that happens.
“I don’t know that a week off would have done us any favours, but yes, we would’ve liked a home grand final.”
LITHGOW PANTHERS 3 (Clare Bosman, Amanda Saladine, Hannah Kable) defeated ST PAT’S 2 (Sarah Watterson, Mish Somers)
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