Amy Thornberry (goal-keeper) was outstanding for United, keeping Souths scoreless in the one-on-one shootout last Saturday.Photo: Renee Powell 0814Whock_8411Parkes United are one step away from a grand final berth after defeating Bathurst Souths in thrilling circumstances at Stephen Davies Field last Saturday.
In a match that went down to the wire including 70 minutes of regular hockey, 15 minutes of sudden death golden goal and a penalty shoot out required to determine the winner, Parkes held their nerve the better to earn a meeting with Lithgow Panthers this weekend.
Amy Thornberry starred for United again, saving a number of shots, a penalty stroke and keeping Souths scoreless in the shootout.
Parkes took the field well-prepared with an excellent warm-up and were raring to go when the whistle blew.
Play was exceptionally intense with both sides playing their best matches of the season.
In an extremely physical encounter, which both sides played in very good spirits, United created the first chance when a Louise Hawken shot flew just wide of the goal.
Parkes’ defence against the threatening Souths attack was exceptional, led by the determined tackling of Codie Wakefield.
Excellent attacking play by Parkes mid-way through the half saw Cass Hodges get a great shot away which the Bathurst keeper just got a glove to which saw it deflect over the top of the goal mouth.
Thornberry was also called upon to make a number of quality saves to keep her team at nil-all as they headed to the half time break.
The tension began to rise as neither side could break through to score.
Parkes worked hard to gain a couple of penalty corners late in the second half, but were unable to capitalise on their chances.
At the end of regular time with the score at nil-all, the match immediately headed to 15 minutes of sudden death golden goal play.
Both sides were desperate to score and it looked likely that Bathurst would take the match when Jess Watterson created an open goal opportunity.
Watterson tomahawked her shot which looked certain to end the match before Sarah Melhuish went diving into the goal mouth to deflect the ball over the backline.
Inspired by Melhuish’s efforts, Parkes dug deep and held Souths out to see the match move on to a one-on-one penalty shootout.
Players have eight seconds to run from the 25 yard line in a one-on-one play with the keeper.
Thornberry proved why she is considered the best keeper in the Premier League by keeping a clean sheet.
She denied both Sarah and Jess Watterson their shots and then saved a penalty stroke after a stick-check on Kate Dooley in her shot on goal.
With Thornberry brilliant in goals, Parkes only needed three of their shooters to score which Wendy Rix, Louise Hawken and Niamh Dixon did with great poise and skill.
Thornberry proved a popular choice as Players’ Player after a brilliant match.
Coach Aaron Huppatz was ecstatic with the victory.
“It was our best game of hockey for the year,” he said.
“It was our best overall team performance.
“I was very happy with our structure, we controlled the ball a lot better this week and didn’t turn it over while our trapping was excellent.
“This win was a great confidence builder and has united the girls.
“We didn’t have a bad player.
“Amy Thornberry showed true class today and amazing composure under pressure.
“It was one of our best defensive performances. as our defenders worked overtime and tackled well all game,” he said.
Huppatz identified his Best and Fairest players as Wendy Rix who was very strong and consistent and dominated the left side.
Bec Cowling put in another consistent performance and was able to inject herself into attack well.
Codie Wakefield was the stand-out defensive performance while Sarah Melhuish did a mile of yards in the middle of the field.
While these players received special recognition, everyone did their job and worked hard for their team-mates.
Parkes will travel to Lithgow this Saturday to take on Lithgow Panthers after their shock 2-0 loss to Bathurst City.
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