SHORT corner stunners, gripping draws, a saved stroke and a pair of clean sheets - the action in the latest round of Central West Premier League Hockey was packed with highlights.
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It's no clearer which men's side will be crowned minor premiers or which women's teams will make the cut for semi-finals, but players are coaches are already thinking ahead.
Check out their thoughts in this week's edition of Drag Flick.
With the men's Central West Premier League Hockey minor premier gaining direct passage through to this year's grand final, there's a lot of value on gaining the top spot.
That race for the top is now a two-horse battle between St Pat's and Lithgow Storm, where the former holds a four-point advantage.
That could change in the next fortnight.
There's big back-to-back games coming up between the pair which will likely decide the top spot, but Saints coach Niel Howard is remaining focused on the long term picture.
He'd rather have a fully healthy side to take the longer path to the title, rather than take a riskier but potentially quicker road to a grand final.
"We've got a couple of injuries and I've spoken about the fact I'm willing to rest people instead of pursuing the win because the pointy end of the season is what matters," he said.
"There's only four games left so you've got to start thinking about what's going to be happening at the end of August. I want to have the best chance of having everyone available for that time of the season."
BEING part of the Central West Premier League Hockey finals series for the first time in seven seasons is a prospect that has Souths players excited, but the two blues know the competition for the top four will be stiff.
Experienced Souths player Emma Siejka feels that Parkes has the potential to end its own drought and make its first semi-final appearance since 2016.
She saw enough from Parkes last Saturday in a match Souths drew 2-all to rate the red and blacks a chance.
"Are they a dark horse? I would definitely think so, yes they are a young team but they have four key people through the middle and they just string it together really well," Siejka said.
"I would never underestimate Parkes and never have, every time we go to Parkes it's always a very good game of hockey."
Souths currently sits in third, but fifth placed Parkes is four points behind.
Parkes is also one of just two sides - St Pat's being the other - to have earned points against the undefeated Lithgow Panthers this season.
"I think at this point in the season I wouldn't underestimate anyone. Three weeks ago when we went to Orange and lost, Pat's also lost that weekend and United lost that weekend, so there were upsets," Siejka said.
"Lithgow is right out in front but with the other teams, I wouldn't be underestimating anyone at this point."
THE women's Central West Premier League Hockey competition has been spoilt for talent over the years when it comes to goalkeepers.
Some of the finest have been in the blue and white of St Pat's - the likes of Tracey Gunning, Tracey Joliffe and Tara Picker having padded up.
It's a tradition that Lilli-Rae Campbell is now continuing.
She's already helped Pat's to a premiership and last Saturday showcased her skill by stopping a penalty stroke in a 2-all draw against Lithgow Panthers.
"She got our players' player by an absolute mile, that's how Lil plays, she played out of her skin, she was fantastic," Pat's coach Bec Clayton.
"She's definitely up there, she'd have to be one of the best goalkeepers for sure ... there was one point there where Lithgow had five short corners nearly in a row and Lil touched the ball on every single one of those corners."
Campbell's efforts in goals against the Panthers was part of an all-round impressive defensive display from the Saints.
Panthers dominated possession in the second half, but it took them until the final 10 minutes to score. Pat's also survived all but one of Lithgow's penalty corner play.
"I haven't seen my team that good defensively this year and certainly not for the couple of years that I have been watching when I was umpiring," Clayton said.
"Just the want and desire to keep that ball out of the goal, that's the Pat's of old, the amount of effort that went into everything on the field."
Bathurst City has put itself inside the women's Central West Premier League Hockey top four with a win over Orange United, but the players don't just want to hold onto that spot - they want to improve on it.
With a recent win over St Pat's and plenty of promising signs in its close loss to Orange CYMS, it's definitely in the realm of possibility for the City women.
City coach Mal Willott said he was happy to see his team continue to "fly under the radar" in the 2022 season, which feels accurate when the dominant storylines have been around the Lithgow and St Pat's battle for first, plus the resurgent Souths trying to lock down their top three spot.
Make no mistake - City is a threat.
Perhaps City's biggest warning shot came on Saturday where the team had drastically reduced numbers for the game against United but still produced plenty of positive hockey.
Yes, United might be sitting in last spot of the table, but it should not take away from what the Bathurst side is doing right - especially with numbers not being optimal.
"We had to call up a girl from Tahs and ended up bringing in another girl who is back in town from uni for holidays, because her sister plays with us," Willott said.
"We'd only organised that the night before when we were originally going to send just 12, because we had a girl pull out, but I thought I better not do that because you never know what might happen in a game."
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