Port Stephens hockey players shine in Hunter team at state hockey championships

Port Stephens had five players who represented the Hunter district at the boys under 13 state hockey championships held in Parkes on the weekend of July 9-11.

The players - Charlie Williams, Oren Williams, Gryphon Julian, Flynn Monro and Brayden West, all members of the Nelson Bay Hockey Club - teamed up with players from Maitland, Cessnock, Kurri Kurri and Forster.

The Hunter team, coached by Damian Schweinberger, was placed in Division 3 after the Sydney and Central Coast teams were forced to withdraw from the tournament due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Nelson Bay's Mark Williams said that the team could only manage three training sessions together and one trial run against the U/15 girls prior to the championships.

"The first game for Hunter against Lithgow was played on a very wet turf due to heavy rain at the start of the day and the boys competed strongly to win 2-0.

"The second game was a more competitive contest between the two teams, with Hunter leading for most of the game before conceding a goal in the final minutes to finish with a 1-1 draw. Next the Hunter played Wagga but the two teams could not be separated despite multiple chances for both sides, finishing in a 0-0 draw."

The results meant that Hunter finished second in Pool A of Division 3, and finished third overall.

"This was truly a tremendous achievement as they were originally set down as a Division 4 team, playing against five strong third division teams."

In the quarter final match against Southern Highlands, the Hunter boys again excelled to win 1-0 in a very tough battle to progress through to the semi finals against Coffs Coast.

Despite conceding an early goal, Hunter continued to press but were unfortunate on several occasions not to score. Coffs slotted two more goals to seal the match in the third quarter with a 3-0 victory. Fittingly, Coffs Coast went on to win the tournament.

Mr Williams said that the boys from Nelson Bay had done their district proud and been fine ambassadors during the entire tournament. "It was great to see the boys - aged between eight and 13 - represent the Bay in such a respectable manner."

Brayden West was awarded most improved by the coach and Oren Williams was presented with the Coach's Player of the Tournament.