Warrnambool celebrates breakthrough state hockey title

WDHA’s victorious men’s division one Victoria country championship team after yesterday’s breakthrough win.

WDHA’s victorious men’s division one Victoria country championship team after yesterday’s breakthrough win.

WARRNAMBOOL District Hockey Association (WDHA)is celebrating its first men’s division one Victoria country championships win.

The Chris Ratcliffe-coached side’s 2-0 grand final win against Geelong in Footscray yesterday ended a run of three straight runner-up finishes.

Ratcliffe said the breakthrough triumph was reward for persistence. 

“It was the fourth year in a row we were in the final,” he said.

“We’d lost the last three so there was no way we were losing this one.

“It means a lot to the guys.

“The ones who have played in all four (grand finals), you could really see it in their faces when they came off the field in the last 30 seconds when we knew we had won.”

Warrnambool District entered the decider having drawn with Geelong in a preliminary match yesterday morning.

It clawed its way back from 2-0 down to tie 2-2 before notching a convincing 3-1 win against Central Victoria to book its grand final spot.

Ratcliffe said War-rnambool District backed in its fitness in the grand final.

“It played out the way I expected it to,” he said. 

“I expected Geelong to come out hard and fast.

“They had a limited numbers of rotations and liked to use their main striker as an avenue to goal.

“We discussed as a team that we needed to get through the first five minutes and weather the storm and play our style of game and tempo and wear them down.

“Our main goal was to starve them of the ball and make them do a lot of off-the-ball running because it would hurt them (fitness-wise) in the long run.”

David Kane scored War-rnambool District’s first goal in the opening half and teenager Max Ferrier — a Victorian junior representative — scored its second with about 15 minutes to play, all but sealing the win.

Ratcliffe said Warrnambool District’s youth provided a spark throughout the three-day tournament.

“We had three kids under the age of 17 — Max Ferrier, Ben Huf and Jack White,” he said.

“The three of them played to the ability I know they can play to and that’s why they were picked.

“They stepped up and took it to every opponent throughout the weekend.

“They didn’t take a backwards step against the bigger bodies.”

Warrnambool District finished with six wins and a draw from its seven matches.

Its triumphs included a win over bogey side Albury-Wodonga — an association which relegated it to runner-up twice in the past four years.

Its stellar form helped four of its 15-player squad earn Victorian Country berths.

Daniel Carlin, Matthew Huf and Cale Rout made the senior team and will play at the Australian country championships in Toowoomba, while Ben Huf was named in a junior development squad. 

Warrnambool District finished fourth in the men’s division two competition.

Coach Mark O’Sullivan said his side “ran out of legs” in its final game, a 2-0 loss to Latrobe Valley. It finished with two wins, three losses and a draw.

Warrnambool District’s division one women finished fourth after a 2-1 semi-final defeat to Central Victoria in Geelong yesterday. It finished with two wins, two losses and a draw.

Coach Ryan Tout — the state over 40 women’s mentor — said he was rapt with the team’s efforts against sides which played together regularly.

justine.mc@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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