THE Strikers are just 90 minutes away from a grand final berth.
But the Hockey Albury Wodonga women know they will have to be at their best to beat seasoned rivals Kew in the major semi-final in Melbourne tomorrow.
The top of the table Strikers finished the season nine points clear of their nearest rival but both home and away clashes with tomorrow’s opponent finished 2-2.
Uncompromising English defender Sadie Butler, in her third year at the Albury Hockey Centre, said they have Kew’s measure.
“We just need to work out a way to get Nan (Latta) into the game because Kew will be working overtime to keep her as far from goal as possible,” he said
“But if they get too focused on Nan, put two or three girls on her like they did the last time we played, then that will open up the opportunities for the other girls.
“They have been outstanding this year and have really stepped up — they are a huge reason behind our success this year.”
Butler said her outstanding year at the back was part personal, part fitness.
“I think I read the game well and I’m a lot fitter this year,” she said.
“Last year my fiance was coach and I think that affected my game, it’s eased the pressure on me.”
Amy Allen, who coach Tony Jones said had been a workhorse for the team all year, also believed the Strikers could earn a week off and a spot in the grand final with a win at the State Hockey Centre.
The 150-gamer has two state league titles under her belt, 2006 and 2008.
“I believe we can beat them, the first time we had most of the ball and couldn’t score and in the second game we started slow and let them get away — but we turned it around in the second-half, again dominated the play and had chances to seal the game,” she said.
“Last week we had six different goal scorers, even I got a goal, so it’s great that we no longer rely on the one goal-scorer — everyone is stepping up now and against a quality team like Kew you have to.
“To finish on top was amazing but secretly we want to win this.
“All the effort you put in all year, travelling to Melbourne and other parts of the state, training, most of the girls back up and play club hockey on the Sunday, and this is really the pinnacle of the competitions.”
Jones said Kew would adopt similar tactics to their last encounter.
“They played a very nice game against us last time double teaming Nan Latta and forcing us to change tactics,” he said.