Fireworks expected from even match-up in semifinals

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Email Cameron Newbold

A fast-paced, high-intensity match is expected between Spencer Park and North Albany in the Lower Great Southern Hockey Association men’s A-grade elimination first semifinal in Albany on Saturday afternoon.

Two of the most exciting and attacking teams in the competition will go head-to-head with a preliminary final berth up for grabs and there has been very little between the two sides so far this season.

Two of their four matches this year have ended in draws while the other two have been one win apiece heading into week one of the finals.

In round 14, Park and Redbacks played out a pulsating 4-4 draw and most recently the pair finished with a scoreless draw in round 19.

In that 4-4 result, Park led 4-1 at half-time on the back of the work of star pair Jack Dawson and James Gonzales, but a second-half hat-trick to young striker Eddie McQuade helped Redbacks conjure a draw.

McQuade and fellow youngster Sam Want have been in terrific form for Redbacks in the second half of the season and will again be keys to their chances of progressing to the second week.

Gonzales looms as a major threat to the Redbacks’ hopes, having recently returned from playing with WA at the Australian Country Hockey Championships and scoring twice in last week’s 4-1 win over defending premiers Manypeaks.

Park skipper Sam Brown and Henry Marsh have also been key contributors this season, while they will also be hoping young talent Karel Cronje can make an impact in the final.

Meanwhile in the women’s A-grade competition, Mt Barker will face Park in the first semifinal on Saturday afternoon in Mt Barker.

In their first season in the A-grade competition, Mt Barker finished third and have won two of their four encounters with Park this season, including their most recent clash, 3-1.

Park, however, come into the final with winning momentum having defeated Peaks last week and recorded victories in round 1 and round 11 over their finals opponent.

Laura Archer will be key to Mt Barker’s winning hopes, while experienced trio Emma Thompson, Annie Judd and Elsa Piggott will need to stand up for Park to get across the line.

The match starts at 5pm.

In the women’s A-grade second semifinal, Peaks and Redbacks will do battle in Albany at 4.45pm, with the winner qualifying directly for the grand final.

Mt Barker and Peaks will clash in the men’s A-grade second semifinal at Mt Barker starting at 6.30pm, with the first semifinal in Albany beginning at 3.15pm.

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