A SAVE from a penalty stroke by Chatham goal keeper Dom Tagliapietra proved pivotal in the Manning A-grade men’s hockey grand final; won 3-1 by Chatham over Sharks.
The Wolves had two players cooling their heels in the sin bin by for over-vigorous tackles when Sharks received the stroke. There was still plenty of time on the clock and Sharks were pressing home the two man advantage when the stroke was awarded. However, Tagliapietra managed to save the shot from Wade Harry.
“That seemed to change the momentum of the game,’’ Chatham coach Frank Birkefeld said.
“That pumped our guys while their heads dropped.’’
This was Chatham’s fourth consecutive premiership. While Chatham finished minor premiers, Sharks proved too strong in the major semi-final, winning 5-2. However, the young Sharks side seemed to struggle in the high pressure grand final atmosphere. Birkefeld believes that his side’s big match experience was a telling factor.
Sharks boast a wealth of talented young players, but many were turning out in their first A-grade decider.
All the scoring was done in the first half. Luke Hough, Sam Ferguson and Drew Cooper all found the back to the net for Chatham while Bailey Pitman broke Sharks’ duck.
Luke Hough at centre striker was outstanding for Sharks, scoring one goal and laying on the other two. Matt Doherty and Adam Birkefeld were busy in the middle for Chatham where they controlled play while Hal Phillips was strong at the back in what was a professional performance from the Wolves.
Coach Birkefeld said the depth his side had from the bench was also a major factor.
“I could throw any of them into the game and no lose anything,’’ he said.
Schoolboy representatives Wade Harry and Sam Mudford were outstanding for Sharks while Pitman also troubled the defence with his speed.
Sharks will also be the better for the experience.
Sharks break drought
SHARKS won the club’s first Manning division one women’s hockey premiership in a decade when upsetting Wingham 2-1.
Desperate defence on fulltime foiled Wingham’s efforts to level up the scores.
Wingham had a great start to the match when opening the scoring in the first half but Sharks had squared the scores by the break before notching the winner in the second half.
Kristy Aldridge was outstanding for the winners while Mel Mendham was also strong.
Wingham went into the encounter warm favourites after their win over Sharks in the major semi a fortnight ago.