MINOR premiers Norths will face The Entrance in Saturday’s premier men’s hockey grand final after the latter beat Maitland Rams in a penalty shootout at Wyong on Sunday.
The game went into extra time drop-off situations with the scores locked at 3-all.
No goals were netted, forcing the match into a penalty stroke shootout, where The Entrance prevailed 4-2.
Saturday’s season decider will see Norths enter the game full of confidence after recording two emphatic wins against The Entrance in recent weeks, the most recent a 7-1 win in the major semi-final.
However, Coasties coach Ray Winwood-Smith believes those wins will have little psychological effect on his players.
“Every time you take the field it is a new ball game,” he said.
“We beat them earlier in the season, albeit when they had some players missing, but so did we in our losses to them so we are not conceding until that final whistle.
“The old saying that the game is not over until the fat lady sings sits strongly with me.”
Winwood-Smith said his team had to control its game structure at the back and through the middle while placing pressure on Norths’ midfield as it did for most of the game against Maitland.
“We cannot allow star teenager Matt Dawson any room to initiate plays,” he said.
“I know Norths have outstanding strikers in Jack Elliott and Jarrod Reeves and we have high regard for its captain Theo Gruska, so it will be our task to shut them down and limit their scoring opportunities.
“Remember we could have been three goals up in the first 10 minutes of the semi-final so if we convert our chance we are in there with a chance.”
Norths coach Dave Willott will not lose any sleep trying to devise a game plan as his charges, all of whom have a wealth of representative experience, seem able to adapt quickly to changing game situations and he has the players to cover any weaknesses that might appear during the match.
Still, he will be insisting they do not concede free space as The Entrance’s David Carter, Sam Coonan, Isaac Johnson and Nick McEwen are all capable of finding the net.
If so, goalkeeper Shaun O’Brien could be kept busy, as will his opposite number Michael Sneesby.
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