Team effort wins state champs
GRAFTON Public School has won the 2011 NSW PSSA Boys Hockey Knockout Competition, thanks to an unbeatable combination of teamwork, skill and determination.
The win, at Lithgow on Thursday, follows state title wins last year by Westlawn Public in the boys and Grafton Public in the girls.
"It was the boys' turn this year," victorious GPS coach Kevin Bennett said.
The team went into the finals day as Northern champion and won its semi-final against Hunter champion, Telarah Public School, 5-0 in the morning to book itself a spot in the final later that day.
"There was lots of ball movement and passing and everyone was strong in their position," said Bennett, who coached the GPS boys to a state title in 2000.
Goals in the semi went to Isac Brown (2), Ben Jurd, Eli Fahey and Rhys Hebbard.
GPS faced Western champion Dubbo South Public School in the state final and really hit its stride - a thrilling 7-3 scoreline an indicator of the free-flowing game.
Bennett pointed to an awesome game from centre forward Isac Brown, who scored five goals from "all sorts of positions", as one of the key performers. Others scorers for Grafton were Riley Cropper and Ben Jurd.
Bennett said Westlawn Public School beat GPS in the first round last year before moving on to win the New South Wales title but did not field a team this year.
"Every other team in our pool forfeited, so we went to the North Coast finals having not played a game together," he said.
But weekly training sessions with the school's girls' side paid dividends and GPS managed to beat Burringar 3-2 in extra-time.
The boys' comeback from being 2-0 down against Timbumburi in the quarter-finals for a 3-2 win further bonded them as a team.
"It was really exciting to get them to the final four, but to actually win the state final was amazing," Bennett said.
Bennett, also the school's assistant principal, praised the efforts and support of the boys' parents and the Grafton Hockey Association's coaches.