SOME brilliant hockey against more experienced rivals, defensive shut outs, high fives and smiles - that was what made Bathurst's campaign at the Hockey NSW Under 13 State Championships a definite success.
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While neither Bathurst 1 or Bathurst 2 was able to finish in the medals of their respective divisions, over the three-day tournament the young talents more than did the lime green and white proud.
Between them they only lost three of 12 games and kept six clean sheets and they did so with squads that in the main consisted of players who will eligible for under 13s again next year.
On top of that, the Bathurst players were able to do it on their home turf at the Cooke Hockey Complex with friends and family cheering on.
Bathurst 1 competed in the tough division one competition and though it ended up in seventh, lost just one match.
"They played well, playing in division one they only lost one game. We had a few draws and a good win against Newcastle, just how results fell we ended up playing off for seventh and eighth," coach Matt Banning said.
"I'm really happy, they played really well and they've got a smile on their face."
On the opening day of the tournament Bathurst 1 drew 2-all with both Sydney South and Goulburn as well as upsetting Newcastle 1-0.
On Saturday Bathurst 1 fell to an very classy North West Sydney 3-0, but bounced back with a nil-all draw against Grafton.
The side then finished on a high note with a 1-0 victory over Illawarra South Coast in what was a hotly contested match.
Ruby Cole scored the winner 51 seconds out from half-time, but that was not the only highlight of Bathurst 1's last match.
Goalkeeper Grace Yeo produced some fine blocks, Milla Cole made a brilliant trap to shut down an Illawarra penalty corner, while Layla Gibbons and Mia Grabham tackled well.
In attack Chloe Sherlock made a smart intercept in the second half and linked with Bella Crawford who fired in an on-target attempt, while Tilly Hancock sent some dangerous crosses into the circle.
"Everyone had a good run, a few of them played in different positions and got a bit more of a run today and Ruby Cole snuck a goal in just before half-time," Banning said.
"They finished up well, that was their sixth game in three days. They were under pressure there but Grace Yeo has been awesome in goals all weekend and Layla Gibbons has been a real stand out at the back too.
"Zoe Banning held up the midfield pretty well too and steered them around."
The Bathurst 2 side made it all the way to the semi-finals in division three.
It's campaign began with a nil-all draw against Hockey New England then a 1-all draw with Central Coast.
On Saturday the young side, which included nine-year-olds in its ranks, lost 3-0 to Nepean but ensured it finished second in its pool by beating Lithgow 8-0 and Newcastle 2-0.
Though not able to win Sunday morning's semi-final, Northern Sydney Beaches scoring two runaway goals, it was still a mighty effort from Bathurst 2.
"The girls have worked hard since the day they got announced in this Bathurst 2s team, they worked their butts off the whole time," Emma White, who co-coached with Sarah White, said.
"It was a long fight to the end, a very long fight, but they didn't give up. We didn't get the win in the semi, but in the greater scheme of things I still think we won.
"They really stepped up to the challenge, absolutely they have stepped up."
The coach offered special praise to the efforts of newcomer Lezaan Schwartz in goals, but said the biggest positive was seeing every Bathurst 2 player enjoy their hockey.
"Our goalkeeper Lezaan, she only took on hockey maybe three or four weeks ago and she has learned as the tournament went on. She was amazing," White said.
"The highlight would actually be seeing the girls under the tent as we are getting warmed up. They never liked to sit down, they wanted to go play a game.
"They were never chilling or relaxing, they were always like 'Let's go play hockey'. That was the best part for me, seeing them enjoy their hockey."
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