Lock down defence key to McAuley's undefeated run
HOCKEY: Grafton women's division 1 hockey side McAuley White have been a powerhouse for a number of years now but the league leaders are just two games off going the whole regular season undefeated thanks to their impenetrable defence.
McAuley have conceded just six goals in 13 games this year and have been equally as deadly going forward, scoring 53 at the attacking end and coach Harrison Smith believes their lock down defence has been the key factor.
"Defence is hugely important, especially our defencive midfield because that's where you can translate it to goals. I feel like our quality in defence and our decisions at the back definitely help us get goals on the board,” Smith said.
McAuley took on the third place Barbs Helgas on Saturday and while it was a close contest through the middle, the leaders ran out to a 3-0 finish at Brent Livermore Field.
"It was a really good battle, the quality of their midfield was really strong and I thought their goalkeeper had a great game. Our passing game improved in the second half which lead to a few good opportunities,” Smith said.
"We had a few different people in different positions but we played solidly and that was the main thing.”
Smith is excited about the standard of the women's game in Grafton and even feels the men are somewhat lacking in comparison to the ladies.
"I feel that especially compared to last year, the quality of the women's first grade competition is very high for a regional town. I feel like the men could take a lesson out of the women's game,” he said.
With just two games remaining before finals in September, McAuley will play the second placed Sailors Roches on Saturday before a last round clash with Coffs Crusaders but the chance at an 'invincible' season hasn't been on Smith's mind.
"It's crept up on us. We're not really thinking about the whole undefeated thing, we've definitely drawn a couple and it' good to have those games that have a bit of grit,” he said.
"The quality of each side in this competition is a new challenge every game so we've definitely got some good opposition and I hope we keep playing well.”